It takes different kinds of courage to lead courageously. Peter Drucker is one of the greatest thought leaders in business history. He has been called the “inventor of modern management”. He believed in business as a human-driven enterprise that could be profitable and socially responsible. In my mind, one of his most famous quote:

Management is doing things right; Leadership is doing the right things.

… Is all about courage. That is, having the courage to do the right thing even if it is not popular. Good leadership requires the courage and conviction to stand for what you think the right thing is to do and to then do it. According to Drucker:

Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.

And again from Drucker:

If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.

In this VUCA world we live and work in, leaders need to make decisions with incomplete or incongruent information. Having the courage to let go and stop doing something even if stopping it is unpopular is part of what good leadership is about. Especially now in the age of disruption, where if you don’t stop doing something old it could quickly lead to an organization’s demise.

From Drucker:

Results are obtained by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems.

and…

It is more productive to convert an opportunity into results than to solve a problem – which only restores the equilibrium of yesterday.

Exploiting opportunities takes courage because opportunities are not guarantees. Without guarantees comes risk, without some risk-taking again leaders risk obsolescence. Maintaining the “equilibrium of yesterday” is a potential recipe for failure.

Leaders need to be courageous enough to lead even when they don’t know what the future holds. Drucker:

Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window.

Instead, courageous leaders need to create the future by articulating a strong, clear and compelling future vision and then driving others to that vision. I will close with one of my favourite quotes from Drucker:

The best way to predict your future is to create it.

Thanks for reading!

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