“Daddy, what is bravery?”
Several thoughts flashed through my mind in an instant. I wanted to give her an answer simplistic enough for her to understand but accurate enough to address the complexity of her question.
Bravery is when you’re not afraid, I thought, then immediately rejected that answer. “Bravery isn’t the absence of fear!,” my mind yelled. “Most people who have to be brave admit to also being quite scared at the same time!”
I decided at that moment to use a definition of the word courage I’d heard years earlier.
“Well honey,” I said, “bravery is when something makes you scared or uncomfortable, but you do it any way, because it’s the right thing to do.”
“Like when I had to get a shot at the doctors and didn’t want to, but squeezed my eyes shut and did it anyway, and it hurt bad, but only for a minute?,” she replied.
“Exactly,” I said. “You were very brave that day.”
Seemingly satisfied by my answer, she returned to her mac and cheese. My mind, however, continued pondering the subject of bravery, and I thought for a while about many of the practice managers, office managers, and physicians I work with. Many of them, it turns out, probably need to exercise a bit more bravery.
Leaders face situations that cause fear or discomfort every day. Having to tell truth to power is one I hear often. Or having to give feedback knowing an employee will get defensive or emotional.
But great leaders display bravery. They know their words or actions may disrupt a fragile harmony, but they do it anyway because it’s the right thing to do. Their action is the only way to fix a problem, help the team, or overcome a barrier. It isn’t easy, but it IS necessary.
So here’s some food for thought for you: What are you avoiding, as a leader, because it’s scary or uncomfortable? Where do you need to reach for bravery?
Please share your thoughts in the comments box below! ~Joe
Joe Mull, M.Ed. is President of Ally Training & Development, which provides leadership development, management training, and staff development programs to healthcare providers. He is the author of Cure for the Common Leader: What Physicians & Managers Must Do to Engage & Inspire Healthcare Teams which is available on Amazon.com. For more info on Joe visit http://cureforthecommonleader.com