What often feels like two extremes of a paradigm, somehow link at an exact juxtaposition with great leaders. The two, when leveraged appropriately become distinct characteristics of an effective decision-making process. Each one independently guides a response but has the power, when applied simultaneously, to build trust.
Courage is by definition, a bold action; a quality deeply ingrained in our psyche, often described as the ability to confront fear, danger, or adversity. It is also about making a determination to move forward through times of uncertainty, fear, or obstacles. Oftentimes, it requires a person to step outside of their comfort zone and become more comfortable with the unknown. It is often characterized as determination, resilience, fortitude, or grit. Regardless of description, it is a force that drives individuals to act on their beliefs and values, even though they may risk personal or professional hardships as a result.
Compassion on the other hand is a quality rooted in empathy and in having a clear understanding of how we are received by others. This requires having a very clear and authentic level of self-awareness. Understanding how others receive you gives you a greater perspective of the impact you will have on them. It leads to an awareness of the other's emotions and needs, and as such, positions you to act through higher moral and ethical principles. This level of compassion fosters collaboration and cooperation which sets the stage to find more mutually beneficial solutions and satisfaction. The downside to compassion is that it generally takes a moment of pause to trigger the response, a moment that is often overlooked with the much stronger response of courage and insatiable need to push forward.
Each of us could likely name multiple individuals who have perfected the art of courage, or the art of consideration, yet there is a uniqueness in having an ability to be tactful and diplomatic to the extent that both courage and consideration can be presented simultaneously. Perhaps, this balance could be described as "a silver-tongued devil"....a phrase an employee once told me I resembled. I remember feeling uncertain about how this could be in any way complimentary, however, she further explained how she too could not fully understand how she could leave my office after being told she had done something wrong, only to feel more confident about herself and her abilities because of it (This will always be my "Mo" moment...for those that know, you know). After that, I decided it was probably one of the greatest compliments I could ever receive.
Courage, in and of itself, is thought to be a bold, harsh response; that of telling people what they don't want to hear. Consideration is thought to be the weak, sensitive, and overly mushy quality; of being a cheerleader. It is the intersection of the two where we find the most ethically sound and impactful decisions are made. Courage on the one hand tells us what actions need to be taken, consideration on the other, helps to point out the roadblocks so we get down the path successfully. The end result of that path is Trust.
Both qualities are essential, and their interplay often results in thoughtful, ethical, and courageous choices that positively impact our lives and the world around us. The key to navigating life's crossroads effectively is to harness the power of both courage and consideration in making informed, compassionate, and impactful decisions. As a leader, this no longer becomes the motive of actions taken for yourself, rather, it must become the motive for the actions you commit to take for those you lead.