Crossroads in leadership: The fearless leader

Crossroads in leadership - the fearless leader

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Could you become a fearless leader? What does that mean? Asks Tim Wenzel, CPP, Co-Founder and President of The Kindness Games in the final installment of Crossroads in leadership.

Navigating leadership

Part 6 of the Crossroads in leadership series is where this particular journey ends. 

Becoming a fearless leader is a graduation of sorts. It means you’ve refined your leadership philosophy, you’ve established your system and processes for managing teams and the normal anxieties and troubles of your role in leadership and management are not knocking you off balance.  

It’s not to say that life is trouble free or that you don’t have significant concerns or obstacles in your role.

Instead, you realize that as you lead and are elevated, these concerns and obstacles are the reason you’ve been chosen. 

Someone needs to be prepared to navigate the storm, guide teams, programs and organizations through rough waters. 

You’ve ceased to perceive these issues as negative. They are not troublesome, they are why you’re here.

If you find yourself in this fearless state, a world of possibilities is open to you. 

The crossroad

Fearless leaders understand that they are responsible for how others experience and perceive them. Yet they don’t obsess over it.

They lead and interact intentionally. They endeavor to enter every situation mindful of their purpose.  They foster relationships which can be grown and repaired as needed.

Keenly aware that even the most intentional leader will fall short from time to time, they accept the fact that even when they’ve interacted with others as well as they are able, not everyone will choose to like or support them.

A fearless leader’s burden is to provide the experience, not dwell on each and every result.

As a fearless leader, you’re leading influential conversations. 

The hallmark of a leader who appears unfazed by circumstances is the appetite and ability to step into any situation and lead any conversation, with anyone. 

Often as leaders we have to enter the sphere of politics. It’s just the way it is. 

During a political battle or just working with other leaders who ARE fearful, artificial parameters, roadblocks or processes are imposed. 

I can recall hundreds of times when I’ve been told a specific executive won’t allow or doesn’t like… This is meant to shut down a course of action but I engage in the conversation. 

Usually within moments, I understand that this is an artificial boundary or a general anxiety, or something bad happened once when someone was doing something similar so we will never walk that path again…  

The fearless leader will happily walk that path if there is a lack of reason not to.

Fear can only exist in the gray, the undefined hazy environment that so many actively design or allow to exist. 

Fearless leaders hasten to define their reality in all circumstances so they can clearly survey the true options available to them.

Another defining factor is someone who knows and can articulate why they are doing things and why they don’t do them another way. 

It’s a well-defined thoughtfulness around their strategy and execution which ultimately culminates in a rock solid position… 

I do these things, make these decisions, inform these people for the good of our organization, not for my own good or elevation. 

While altruistic intentions can often be mocked, setting this track record and being able to demonstrate the truth of this intention in your work and leadership is a cosmic leap towards rising above reproach.  

When accusations are made or insinuated in a time of heightened anxiety, or during an organizational power struggle… will anyone believe them? Will these accusations be seriously entertained?  

The fearless leader has built a reputation of openness, integrity and transparency. They intentionally leave no room for shadow in their work or reputation. 

They are able to answer questions easily, own up to the things they’ve said or done and demonstrate the rationale behind their actions.  

While mistakes will always be made, if you are continuously working towards the betterment of the organization you serve, your motives will not be suspect. 

Even when you take bold action which is shocking, you use the tools of leadership in a way that is out of character to deal with irregular situations… if you’ve taken the correct partners, led the correct conversations, your reputation will grow in a positive manner and you will garner respect.

Owning and modeling the we leadership philosophy removes the unnecessary worry about me. If I… then this might happen – to me.

In a world where we are told to pursue our own happiness and make sure our needs are fulfilled; for leaders, this mindset and life philosophy will keep you alone, anxious and toxic.

When leading for we, leaders are more fulfilled, more respected and are often more effective. They have a better chance of becoming fearless leaders.

Ultimately, a fearless leader has a healthy fear, awe and respect for the power and authority they hold over other people. 

They demonstrate a certain reverence and respect for what they are “able” to do, which always begs the questions: “Is this right?”; “Is this a healthy and uplifting use of the authority which has been granted to me?”; “What goal does this truly serve?”

Fearless leaders understand that they have the power to elevate and destroy. Both can be used to effectively shepherd highly effective autonomous teams.

We should have a genuine care for those we are responsible for. We should be honest with ourselves when we find a personal bias in play. 

For everyone, there exists a personality that feels like a cheese grater across our face, though that person has done nothing wrong. 

A Fearless leader should see, understand and elevate this concern to someone who can help us be objective in respect to these people. 

The opposite is also true. Certain personalities that we seem to love no matter what. These people can almost do no wrong in our opinion.

Fearless leaders are quick to seek the counsel of others, because they understand they have only one perspective and they see value in the insights of others.

Lastly, fearless leaders head teams which question and speak up when they have an idea or more importantly, don’t agree with them.

They platform naysayers so they are heard. Their arguments can be evaluated and sometimes their hypothesis can be proven, because fearless leaders don’t walk their path alone.

You can find Tim on LinkedIn here.

In 2024, watch for Tim’s next series titled: The insecurity in security.

To read the previous installment of Crossroads in leadership, click here.

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