August 10, 2023 1 Min Read
Confluent Leadership Principle #8: Lead With Courage & Honor
Be brave! More than any other single attribute, courage is what is needed for leadership. Courage to try something hard, to speak up with bad news, to do the right thing even when it isn’t the easy thing. Teams respond to leaders who have courage by rising to the challenge. They lose all respect for cowardly middle managers who won’t stand up for what is right, or won’t try for something big for fear of failing or care more about looking good than being great.
This doesn’t mean blocking or sabotaging decisions that have already been made. At some point, you will need to “disagree and commit”. But it does mean being willing to be the dissenting voice, even with an unpopular view while the decision is being considered.
Honor is the counterpart to courage. Honorable behavior is doing the right thing even when it is hard, risky, or demands some sacrifice. Seeing honorable behavior in leaders is critical in building the respect needed to make a team want to follow you. This kind of honor and integrity in leaders is critical because whether they like it or not, the behavior of leaders is quickly mimicked and magnified throughout the organization.
These two attributes—courage and honor—can sound a bit old-fashioned and out of date. After all, we aren’t leading a cavalry charge, we are building software. But if you think about the leaders you’ve admired the most in your career, who helped their teams do things everyone thought were impossible, and who you’d follow wherever they went, I’ll bet they had both these characteristics.
Reprinted with permission from Confluent, 2023