Between Messrs. Cowarde and Courage
“Go and alter the financial records. I don’t want the Board of Directors or auditors to probe my financial impropriety. I will sack both of you if you refuse. You know I have the power to incriminate you. No questions: just execute my instructions,” ordered Mr. Philip Froude, the Chief Executive Officer of Forde Services Limited to Messrs Johnson Cowarde and Japheth Courage, both senior accountants.
Mr. Cowarde did not want to lose his job. He presented doctored financial records to the auditors. Mr. Courage refused. He insisted he has his professional ethics and personal integrity to protect. He went back to the CEO and resigned his appointment from the company.
The auditors uncovered the discrepancies, and reported the collusion to the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors sacked both the CEO and Mr. Cowarde. Mr. Courage was reinstated and promoted as the new CEO.
This is Courage
Your life as a leader either grows or diminishes relative to your courage or cowardice. As a leader, you need the frame of mind and ability to face up to fears, difficulties, dangers, pains, threats of death, losses or vicissitudes of life without surrendering your personal sense of values, integrity and professional code of ethics. This is courage.
Are you a medical doctor and have been asked to work against the Hippocratic Oath? The temptation is commonplace in the marketplace. Everybody is tempted every day. Scientists, Teachers, Engineers, Journalists, Accountants, Human Resources Practitioners, Artists, Musicians and other professional or vocational callings.
Wikipedia defines courage as “the ability and willingness to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty or intimidation.” It went further to classify courage into physical and moral. “Physical courage is courage in the face of physical pain, hardship, death or threat of death while moral courage is the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal or discouragement.”
What Every Leader Needs
As a leader, you need courage to stand out, speak up, do things differently, take a decision, be responsible, compassionate and strong.
You need courage to stand out. They say to you: “do not rock the boat”. It is convenient to fall into groupthink even when the scenario is unethical. If you want to be outstanding as a leader, you must stand out. It does not make you a trouble maker. It puts you in a position to always think outside the box. Your productivity soars when you are outstanding.
You need courage to speak up. The leader is the voice of his team. You speak for them. If you lose the initiative to speak up for your belief, cause and team, you will become compromised and bankrupt.
You need courage to do things differently. Nowadays, it is either you innovate or die. You need courage to perceive, see, adjudge and do things differently. When you challenge the status quo, and question the way you are doing your business to determine whether that is the best you can offer, new inspirations will spring up.
You need courage to take a decision. The principal duty of a leader is to provide inspiration, guidance and direction. You are able to do this when you take decisions. In fair weather or difficult times, it is imperative as a leader to fall in the line and take a position for the company and your team. You cannot afford to sit on the fence.
You need courage to act responsibly. Leaders usually behave erratic and become aggressive because of the burden of responsibilities they shoulder. Your team needs you to act matured always so that they can continue to trust you.
You need courage to be compassionate. As a leader, you do not need to a sword to conquer. You need the staff of the shepherd. The effective leader is the shepherd leader who leads his people from behind.
You need courage to stand strong. A leader cannot afford to be weak for his cause, people and himself. If he does, the project will fail. You need the strength of character, fortitude, moral stamina and physical endurance to stand up for your belief or cause to make it succeed.
How You Can Build Courage
Do not be a coward. William Shakespeare said, “cowards die many times before their deaths”. Cowardice diminishes self esteem and confidence. Going forward, choose courage over cowardice this new month.
You should build your inner strength. The power for being and acting courageous comes from within you. You have to nurture your inner being with the word of life to reproduce bravery and energy current that ignite faith, and growth of ethics.
You should conquer your fears. Fear is a crippling bad habit. You have to master it. Relax. You ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that can happen today?” Take a deep breath. The world is not ending today. There will be another day.
You should stop to worry. Worry is the twin of fear. If you deal with worry, you will overcome your fears. Researchers from University of Cincinnati found out that 85% of what we worry about never happens. The study also found that 79% of us handle the 15% that does happen in ways that surprise us with our ability to turn the situation around.
Live your life without fear. Measure your risks and venture for greatness. Learn to choose what is right. Eliminate procrastinations. Fortune, they say, favours the brave.
A Timely Advice
John F Kennedy said, “A man does what he must in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures and that is the basis of all human morality.”
He added, “In whatever arena of life one may meet the challenge of courage, whatever may be the sacrifices he faces if he follows his conscience … the loss of his friends, his fortune, his contentment, even the esteem of his fellow men … each must decide for himself the course he will follow.”
Happy New month!
Author: Babatunde Fajimi
Article originally published in The Union Newspaper under CEO Mentorship page 24 on Sunday, March 1, 2015