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Developing Courageous Leadership: Traits of Courageous Leaders

Updated: Nov 30, 2022

Everyone wants and needs courageous leadership, and every organization requires it. A courageous leader sets an example for others around them, inspires them to be creative without stifling it, and takes the reins of the organization, inspiring everyone to perform their duties to the best of their abilities.

Three buckets of courage

When it comes to courageous leadership, there are three basic categories of courage, which are commonly called: the three buckets of courage.


The boldness needed to start something off requires try courage. It takes bravery to do something for the first time. Failure, making a mistake, or pulling off an outstanding feat are all possibilities.


This kind of courage is necessary to give up control. You will need this trust courage as a leader in order to delegate to your staff, share power with others, and demonstrate your trust in your team. This kind of trust demonstrates to your workers that you do not micromanage them.


The ability to talk honestly and firmly about your opinions and ideas requires tell courage.

Doing this is frequently frightening, especially in a professional situation. Courageous leadership includes regularly giving your team both constructive and positive feedback, even if what you have to say can make someone feel uneasy.

Four expressions of courage

Knowing the different types of courage is important but so to how courage is expressed. Here are the four different expressions of courage you need to know.

Physical courage

Physical courage is using one’s body to express sympathy and foster empathy. Every time someone chooses to display physical courage, they have to make a sacrifice. For the benefit of others, they put their bodies in danger.

For instance, in the event of a fire, firefighters will enter burning structures in an effort to rescue the lives of strangers.

They must have physical bravery to take such risks because failing to do so would make them fear endangering themselves or others. Ordinary people also display courage on a daily basis in other situations, such as when a parent risks everything to keep their kids safe.

Social courage

One needs social daring to form meaningful intimacy. It makes it possible to put oneself out there and establish connections with others.

A person must devote their time and emotions in order to build relationships. A person must be willing to accept the risk of failing and confronting rejection because the investment might not be profitable.

Lack of social confidence might cause someone to withdraw and feel quite alone. Therefore, it is necessary to have the courage to face one’s fears and engage in social interaction, especially with those who are frequently shunned by others due to their perceived differences.

Because people come from different backgrounds and have different ideas and behaviors, one must also be willing to be accepting of others. Additionally, a person needs to have the social bravery to be accommodating and make other people’s lives simpler because everyone craves a sense of belonging.

Moral courage

Saying no to violence is made possible by moral valor. There are many different types of violence, including psychological, spiritual, and physical. People frequently support various sorts of violence because they lack the moral fortitude to oppose it.

Many individuals are afraid to practice moral courage out of concern that they will be seen as meddling, but if they did, a lot of the violence that occurs in society would end and fewer people would suffer.

Creative courage

One might think of ways to change society by having creative fearlessness. A person with creative courage can decide to defy convention and take the proper course of action.

By deciding to go down a certain path, that person can make a difference and demonstrate that people do not necessarily need to make dirty music or films in order to create wonderful music. They can include a message that opposes using drugs or having sex, and by doing so, they can affect beneficial societal change.

“It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.” ― Roy T. Bennett

Traits of a courageous leader

A culture of respect and trust among stakeholders is often successfully fostered by courageous leaders, and this can serve to promote development on both the individual and organizational levels. Typically, courageous leaders exhibit the following qualities and serve as role models for others:

  1. Resilience: Resilience is the capacity to overcome challenging circumstances, adjust swiftly, and proceed to make progress. Resilience is a quality that courageous leaders frequently display since it can improve how well they manage stress and bounce back from difficult circumstances. Leaders that possess this quality may be more adept than others at overcoming challenges and coming up with original solutions.

  2. Self-discipline: This quality can help leaders control their emotions appropriately and demonstrate the perseverance required to accomplish challenging objectives. For instance, self-disciplined leaders can gain from maintaining composure, accurately assessing events, and pushing themselves to come up with effective solutions when faced with obstacles that cause stress and strain.

  3. Authenticity: Authenticity in approach is often a trait of courageous leaders. These professionals could feel obligated to guide others while adhering to their morals, principles, and worldview. In many cases, authenticity enables leaders to stay true to themselves despite peer pressure to do differently, which can assist build trust and security among their workforce.

  4. Empathy: The basis of strong leadership is empathy. Leaders that possess this quality are more able to comprehend people, their viewpoints, and their experiences. By interacting with others in this way, leaders can forge closer professional ties with their subordinates. From this point on, they might be more successful in assisting struggling workers as they deal with difficulties and giving them the resources they need to advance in their careers. This characteristic often enables leaders to gain the self-awareness required to comprehend how their actions affect others, which may give them a sharp interpersonal ability.

  5. Openness: Courageous leaders often welcome criticism, especially constructive criticism because it aids in their own development. These experts are aware that everyone has blind spots in their performance, regardless of experience or seniority. They can continue to be dedicated to enhancing their strategy with the aid of this outlook. As a result, courageous leaders may be receptive to hearing feedback on how successful they have been in their roles and may use that input to improve the services they provide to others.

  6. Accountability: These leaders usually have very high standards for both themselves and those around them. They often use this to hold their teams accountable for their work and capacity to keep commitments. Furthermore, this quality frequently enables bold leaders to accept accountability for their own acts.

  7. Flexibility: As long as a suggested change aids a team or organization in achieving greater results, courageous leaders are often open to change and flexible in their ideas. These leaders usually think that a company can lose opportunities to identify better methods by functioning under the idea that the status quo is the best course of action. Because of this, brave team leaders can inspire their colleagues to think of alternate ways to achieve their objectives and to be open to new ideas.

  8. Honesty: Honest leaders have a straightforward stance. They may openly express their opinions while enticing others to do the same. When it would help their team overcome obstacles and make progress, these leaders are frequently more open than other leaders to having sincere conversations—even when they are uncomfortable.

How to take your first step as a courageous leader

With the knowledge you have gained, you can take decisive actions that will help you become a greater leader for your team, your company, and yourself.

Take a courageous stand

The first thing you need to do is make the decision that you will always lead with courage. You must be prepared to overcome challenges, take on challenging tasks, and do so consistently.

A courageous leader is someone who continually evaluates their level of bravery. Courage is a muscle that needs to be built up day by day and decision by decision.

Embrace feedback

Although taking unfiltered feedback can be challenging, it’s one of the best things you can do for your organization. Asking for feedback from your team not only helps you better understand your organization but also gives them more freedom to express their opinions.

You don’t have to know all the solutions. Giving up their ego, a brave leader invites advice and proposals from their team.

Face reality head-on

Understanding the state of your business inside and out is a sign of strong leadership. If you don’t fully comprehend the issue and are unable to acknowledge that something needs to change, you run the risk of losing valuable employees and perhaps even your entire company.

Leaders that have courage may persevere in challenging circumstances. They are prepared to make challenging choices and do not give up when the going becomes too tough.

Set high standards

Courageous leaders set higher expectations for both themselves and their team. Setting personal standards will help you as a leader realize your full potential. You enable your staff to realize their greatest potential by exemplifying this to them.

Communicate openly

Even if you don’t have the answers, keep the lines of communication open between you and your workers. Leaders with courage don’t hide behind their laptops.

They don’t evade queries or speak in industry lingo. They speak plainly. They have no problem with admitting, that they don’t know. With their team, they engage in honest and open communication.

The information of brave leaders is shared. They don’t collect concepts. They establish open channels of communication throughout their entire organization.

Say what is on your mind

Real talks are challenging to have, particularly when there is a dispute present. You must possess the fortitude to handle confrontation and deal with problems as they come up if you want to be a leader.

You must be prepared to face opposition and be confident that what you are doing is beneficial for the company and, consequently, for your livelihood. Later on, if these issues are left unattended or allowed to develop, they will only become more serious issues.

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