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  • Writer's pictureShandy Welch

Courageous Leadership



My clients inspire me, and I often see trends emerge from my conversations.  


Regardless of your industry, so many of you are struggling with similar challenges.  You are not alone in your questions, struggles, and need for connection.


In previous writings, I have discussed the concept of The Avoider, which is taken from the Positive Intelligence work of Shirzad Chamine.  (you can refresh your memory here.)


Most recently, I have seen this trait wreak havoc in relationships and workplace dynamics.  Avoiding people or having difficult conversations can bring temporary relief, but I am here to tell you it is NEVER the answer and undoubtedly will escalate and create more destruction.  Avoiding discomfort is tempting, but you no longer have that luxury as a leader.  Your team depends on your courage to serve them and the organization, not yourself.


Courageous Leadership:


  1. Be intentional and mindful: own your discomfort and commit to a resolution that serves others and your team.

  2. Allow yourself grace: this is hard for 90% of people; you are not alone.  You don’t need to know the answer. You just need to be willing to find it.

  3. Admit you are human and partner with someone for support: Find a mentor, coach, or colleague to support your success and brainstorm strategies.

  4. Recognize this is a LEARNED skill and commit to your personal growth and development.


I have conducted several short workshops on “difficult conversations,” and I can tell you that there are learned strategies and techniques that, if you commit the time to learn and integrate, will save you from sleepless nights and broken relationships and create long-term success that is rooted in trust, transparency, and honesty.


Andy Stanley once said, “People like character but follow clarity.” 


What kind of leader do you want to be? 


Balancing Likability and Honesty: Many people want to be liked and sacrifice honesty to retain their image.  I am not inferring that you have to choose between honesty and likeability, but I am saying that not everyone will always like or agree with you, which is OK. Typically, avoiding the topic or conversation is self-perceived as a way to stay in the good graces of others, but instead, it creates long-term distrust and erodes the foundation of your team.


Leadership is not a popularity contest. You must decide where to expend your energy and what you ultimately value most.


What I remember about my most influential leaders is their courage, their strength to stand in the fire when times were difficult, humility, and their ability to talk about and brainstorm the barriers to success.  They acknowledged the discomfort and held the tension.  They focused on the team’s success more than their comfort.


My Challenge to You:


  • Self-Reflection: How often do you avoid the truth, and what are the commonalities around this behavior?

  • What is the cost of Avoiding?  Energy, relationships, cohesiveness of your team, trust?

  • What will you do to change the dynamic and develop new skills?  


You can join the “recovered Avoider” team; I have seen it happen many times.  Are you worth the investment?


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