Courageous & Kind
If I had to identify the two most critical characteristics of the greatest leaders, or mentors, I have known, it would come down to these two: courageous and kind.
Are there better descriptors of the best leaders than courageous and kind?
Sure, the argument for the need to be an expert in your field will come up. But, what good is knowledge without the courage to take action based on that knowledge and the kindness to apply it appropriately?
Some could debate the need for the ability to build relationships as critical for a leader. And, of course, it is. However, it’s courage that allows us to introduce ourselves or say what needs to be said. It’s kindness that leads to the awareness of what another person needs to hear at any certain time. Courage and kindness are at the heart of relationship building.
And, the ever-present focus on an elite work ethic is common for high achievers and leaders. Courage is what supports the willingness to sacrifice one thing for another. And, at some point in that process, kindness will become critical for maintaining the balance necessary to uphold that work ethic.
Why Should We Care?
What is courage?
According to Miriam-Webster courage is the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty. A good definition, I guess, but I would like to share with you what I think courage is.
Courage is the only bridge to action. No courage, no action.
A lot of things are said, and a lot of people are great at giving their opinions, but far fewer are willing to take action. What good are philosophers without activists?
Self-awareness and the willingness to be vulnerable are critical traits of the best leaders I’ve known, but do they matter without the readiness to act on them? I don’t think so. I think there are plenty of people that know themselves, but never reveal themselves.
I believe strongly in core values and their importance in living an intentional life. Sadly, there are a lot of leaders that have done the work to identify their core values, but lack the courage to live them on a daily basis.
What is kindness?
Kind is defined as of a sympathetic or helpful nature. Another solid definition by the Miriam-Webster crew, but I would like to offer my take on kindness as it applies to leadership.
Kindness is unselfish. When we show, or don’t show, kindness to others we are communicating their importance to us and the team.
Kindness gets a bad rap for being soft, but that is typically by people that don’t understand what kindness actually is. It’s not accepting excuses or lowering the standard. That’s the opposite of kindness. There is nothing ‘helpful’ about that.
Relationships are important. There is no other way to say it or look at it. If you’re in leadership, or a person …, relationships matter. Kindness is the crux of all relationships. It is what supports the vulnerability and trust necessary to build them.
REAL TALK - Action Steps
Here are a few ideas on helping you to be just a little more courageous and kind.
Be courageous and kind. Everything may not fall exactly in place with just those two things, but a whole lot will.
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I'm a teacher, coach, and parent seeking excellence while defining success on my own terms.