Why Do Leaders Need To Develop Personal Courage To Build Motivated Teams?

16 May 2023
We all want and deserve great leaders.  However, ‘great’ is often likened to ‘strong’ and that’s where leadership can go off track! What’s wrong with ‘strong’ leadership?

We all want and deserve great leaders. 

However, ‘great’ is often likened to ‘strong’ and that’s where leadership can go off track!

What’s wrong with ‘strong’ leadership?

It’s so easy to think of strong leadership as needing to be highly involved. Needing to be in control. Powerful. Tough. Forceful. These connotations can make leaders feel they have to:

  • Control their team’s work and processes
  • Hold meetings to discuss decisions
  • Supervise to help teams avoid mistakes
  • Observe actions to understand workflows

But is this great leadership?

Think about it.

How would you feel if your leader had such a tight controlling hand on your shoulder? Is it great leadership? No…It’s micromanagement.

Perhaps you’ve noticed, it is ridiculously common despite not being good for anybody!

As leaders, it’s easy to feel we are doing the right things if we focus on doing the ‘strong’ things we perceive we need to do. But we can end up stretched, working at full capacity and struggling to see the wider picture.

Beware – burnout looms!

As employees, that micromanage-y way of leading can make us feel like there’s a lack of trust. This can make us afraid to act for fear of making a mistake – which usually results in lower morale, reduced productivity, and higher staff turnover.

How does this happen?

Usually through a lack of awareness.

Often, people are promoted into leadership positions because they performed well within their role. They approach leadership with the very best intentions but often they simply haven’t been trained in leadership, so believe they need to act ‘strong’, while not realising that what they think of as being strong, is actually damaging.

Ironically, what they may regard as loose or lax, even ‘weak’, is a misread of what’s needed. What’s needed is a greater understanding of empathy and courage.

If you are in a leadership position, consider this question…

…How often do you encourage your managers to:-

  • Let employees get on with things?
  • Allow them to make mistakes and learn from them?
  • Give praise and compliments?
  • Take time to build social connections with employees?
  • Go out of the way to demonstrate kindness?

At face value, all of these can be considered ‘soft’ or ‘weak’. But they are – in fact – the very actions required to build strong, motivated, collaborative teams.

A great leader is committed to building trust, developing co-operation, and inspiring their teams to succeed together. They model kindness, openness, and humility, rather than wanting to be seen as dominant, strong and in control. A great leader isn’t someone who micromanages every aspect of an employee’s day. As Simon Sinek says, “You’re not IN CHARGE, you need to take care of those IN YOUR CHARGE!”

What’s needed to switch from ‘strong’ leadership to ‘great’ leadership?

In a word – courage. Personal courage.


Well, it takes personal courage to:-

  • Seek and receive feedback about our leadership approach
  • Openly admit we’ve made mistakes
  • Place trust in others
  • Adapt our leadership style to improve organisational performance 
  • Let ourselves be seen for who we are, not who we think we ‘should be’

Personal courage is key, but it isn’t easy to develop alone. Let me tell you about Peter.

When I first met Peter, he was a proud, strong MD of a manufacturing firm who felt confident when he was in control, but truthfully, he micro-managed. Inadvertently, perhaps – but sure enough, he did it.

Peter started to realise his personal need to control was stifling his ambitions to grow the business. He simply couldn’t handle everything; change was required, and it started with him.

Peter knew what was needed, but not how to go about developing it, which is why he turned to Contigo as the organisation’s leadership development partner.

To begin with, we worked closely with Peter, on his own.

We knew, for him to become courageous, he needed to allow himself to be vulnerable. To let his guard down, to look closely at himself, identify his weak areas, improve his approach, and begin to treat others in a way that reignited their passion for their work and let them perform well.

Peter started modelling courage, humility, and self-awareness. He began to lead with confidence, behave with kindness, trust his team, and empower them to work productively and collaboratively.

The impact of Peter’s transformation was incredible. His new leadership style trickled down to his teams, who began mimicking his behaviour, leading to a positive change across the entire organisation.

How can you support your leaders in developing personal courage?

Courage comes from making bravery a habit. From learning to be comfortable with the uncomfortable; from acting with kindness rather than trying to control.

At Contigo, we specialise in developing reflective leaders; and helping managers at all levels become more courageous. We work with managers at all levels, helping them develop so they can really see themselves and fulfil their potential to become the inspiring leaders they truly are inside.

We use a range of hands-on techniques to help them recognise personal strengths and vulnerabilities and support them in understanding themselves on a deep and personal level.

We teach them to understand how they behave and why they do so. We explore how their behaviour impacts their team, and help them learn how to adapt to reach better outcomes. 

Truly great leaders are the ones who have the courage to admit it’s OK not to always be in control. The ones who believe in leadership beyond control.

Are you ready to build courage within your organisation?

Perhaps this is relevant to you, or perhaps it is a group of managers who need to step up to lead courageously.

Whichever, get in touch with us to book your FREE discovery call and find out how we can work with you to develop a higher level of courageous, motivated leaders in your organisation.

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