Be Strong and Courageous

By

Bernard Lee

1st Aug 2020

4 min read

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The time had come for Joshua to step into the leadership role. He was appointed leader and had the task of leading a nation to a better place. The following words were spoken over him repeatedly:

Be Strong and Courageous.

Those words are so timely for us today. 

‘Be Strong and Courageous’ is not just a mantra or slogan, but an affirmation that was spoken over Joshua as he stepped into his new role. 

To leaders who are carefully navigating people and organisations during this crisis, I speak the following words over you as well, “Be Strong and Courageous”.

Like Joshua, many leaders today have the heavy responsibility of leading their nations/organisations/teams/themselves out of this crisis and to a better place. While there are many uncertainties, there are things we can be certain about. You can read more about it in my previous article here.

I believe there are 3 ingredients for us to be strong and courageous in today’s context. 

1. Clarity of Purpose

Be Strong and Courageous is built on the strong foundation of purpose. The clarity of purpose allows for creativity in strategy. Casey Crawford told the story of a cafe owner whose desire was to provide a place for the community to gather during this difficult season.

The cafe could only seat so many people. What did he do? He creatively turned his carpark into a place where people could gather (while maintaining social distancing guidelines). Played some music and served some food. Everyone was happy!

The clarity of purpose gives strength and courage to face adversity. Nick Vujicic is no stranger to this. Born without limbs, one cannot even begin to imagine how Nick could do the things he is doing (and has done!).

I am pretty sure there were times when Nick wanted to throw in the towel. He had every reason to do so. You wouldn’t argue with him. But he did not; instead, he kept going. Purpose enabled him. Read more about it here on the Nordic Business Forum

Leading management gurus and futurists concur that purpose is one major factor that will steer us on this road to recovery. That purpose must encompass more than just ourselves, our profits, our returns; but the clarion call is loud and clear – there needs to be a more compelling cause that we are pursuing.

Making money is not a worthwhile goal in itself. It is a byproduct.

Profit is the applause you get for treating your stakeholders well (people, customers, shareholders, suppliers and public) – Ken Blanchard 

2. Uncompromising Precepts

Be Strong and Courageous is also rooted in sound precepts. A precept is ‘a general rule intended to regulate behaviour or thought’. Merriam-Webster defines it as ‘a command or principle intended especially as a general rule of action’. 

Here are some precepts worth considering (in no particular order of importance):

  1. Value People – treat people as people, not as a resource. Value people and intentionally add value to people. Be the mindful, selfless and compassionate leader (The Mind of a Leader).
  2. Values Driven – lead your people and organisations with clear values. Decide early how you will behave. Crisis reveals the best and worse in us. Allow your values to guide your behavior. Ensure good governance practices are in place.
  3. Reimagine together – co-create the future organisation with your stakeholders – customers, shareholders, suppliers and employees. Seek to build trust and respect.
  4. Be the Servant-Leader – be the leader that serves the needs of your people. Step away from being a self-serving and self-centered leader. Turn the leadership pyramid upside down with servant-leadership.
  5. Grow Talent – whether you buy, build, borrow, bot or boost; be intentional about developing your talent pool. Develop them not just for today, but also for tomorrow’s business.
  6. Embrace Technology – don’t fear it, embrace it. Leverage on it. Invest into it. Remember technology is not about computers and artificial intelligence, it is all about people and and culture.
  7. Digitalisation not just digitisation – review your processes and transform how you do business. Remember it is not about efficiency and effectiveness.  It’s about transforming culture – sustainable and scalable change.
  8. Data – make it your best friend. Data tells you the story. Use data to strategise you plans to bring impactful change.
  9. Customer/Client – forget not your customer. Constantly ask the question, what challenges are my customers/clients facing and how can I help them?
  10. Sound Financials – prioritise spending and conserve cash, but do it intentionally and with purpose. Avoid the trap of being penny wise and pound foolish.
  11. Operational Efficiency and Effectiveness – ensure operational requirements are met while not creating unnecessary burden on other areas. Short-term ‘quick-wins’ may benefit the business, only to realise the burden it creates for the people.
  12. Communication – maintain open and honest communication with stakeholders. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

3. Hope-filled Promise

Be Strong and Courageous is built on the foundation of purpose, rooted in sound precepts and found in the promise of hope for a better future.

Leaders must be the bearers of hope – Ken Blanchard

If you don’t lead with conviction and hope, your people will know. If you don’t lead with hope for a brighter future, I say this respectfully – perhaps it is better for someone else to lead.

The leader must not only have hope, the leader must inspire hope. While one cannot guarantee the outcomes, there needs to be a strong sense of hope that we will come out better. History shows mankind has risen again and again through adversity. Many amazing inventions and discoveries have come out of difficult trying times.

The hope-filled promise is not vain nor wishful thinking. Knowing we have done our best and given our best, we can anticipate how the road to recovery will look like. In many ways, you either see then believe’ or ‘believe then see’. I subscribe to the latter – every leader must believe first, and you will see. I believe that everyone has potential to be realised and I will see that potential come to fruition.

Hope

Our belief affects our mindset and behaviour. If I believe that the future is bright, I’m adopting a growth mindset. One that is adaptive and agile in making changes along the way. Constantly unlearning and relearning while maintaining a posture of humility, enables us to engage with one another and that engagement spurs us on to be a better version of ourselves.

Be Strong and Courageous is a forward-looking call. It is a purposeful, intentional and strategic call to action. It is a call to commitment and the tenacity to be strong. It is a demanding call, yet one we must all heed. 

It is an audacious call. A call so big that shifts ‘Me’ to ‘WE’. Together, let us Be Strong and Courageous!

You may be interested in: 4 Lessons in Growth From the Wisest of Teachers

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