How can I build the courage to become the leader I want to be?

Your courage to be true to your personal values will create a work life worth spending time on and you will become the leader others want to follow.

As your career evolves there will be decisions and choices to make. Many leaders I meet are left with an impression that their career has been something that just happened to them and often they don’t feel that they have had an opportunity to think it all through and follow their own direction. Or perhaps the goals have changed along the way. For some of these leaders this evolvement has already caused a derailment in their career.

In my coaching practice there are two remedies to this situation: finding your own personal values and thus your direction (Finding your personal values), and building up the courage to follow these.

To be the leader you want to be you need the courage to follow your personal values. In this process you will have to do things and make decisions that causes some level of anxiety and/or doubt in situations where there is no certainty about the outcome. If you are like the leaders I meet, you will be worrying about the responses you might get.

Books have been written about anxiety and/or fear, but for the leaders I meet in my coaching room I have seen how awareness of three main areas can enhance your courage:

  • Performance-instability
  • Likeability
  • Vulnerability

The demand on a stable performance level today is significant and we all seem to believe that if we do something new our performance will suffer.

Also, you probably recognize the need to be approved of or likeable. Most leaders do and maybe for you that has been an important ingredient in your success this far.

Because of the above and other factors you will feel vulnerable when you start exhibiting your personal values.

Is there any of these that are hindrances for your courage?

Step 4

Initially you can enhance your courage just by observing what arouses anxiety and/or fear.

Are you most fearful of being a poor performer, not being liked or simply being exposed? By making these observations and becoming aware of your fears and anxieties, it will then become possible for you to take the next step and build your courage muscle.

In my experience this simple exercise will shed light on where you need to challenge yourself and move out of your comfort zone.

Your courage is like a muscle that can be trained. As with any other exercise you start out with small challenges and slowly build up the taste for being courageous enough to be true to your values. The reward comes instantaneously in the form of ease, calmness and energy.

Once you have found out if it is the anxiety associated with performance instability, likeability or simply being vulnerable, you will need to perform small experiments where you challenge yourself with less significant things. A few examples of this would be: trying to leave out small activities you would normally take part in that don’t serve your personal values, doing something that is aligned with your personal values that may be regarded as unpopular or not likeable, or simply telling stories about your lack of perfection.


In short, here is what to do for this month’s inquiry:

1. Observe what stops you from having the courage to be true to your personal values: performance instability, likeability and/or vulnerability.

2. Perform small experiments that challenge the courage block you feel motivated to work on.

3. Take notes on your learnings from your small experiments.


Good luck with experimenting!

Skærmbillede 2014-08-01 kl. 13.07.17