By Barb Ward

“Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision.” – Sir Winston Churchill

Courage is a key ingredient of human resiliency. It requires us to take worthy actions despite potential risk. And, in our world today, it is a simple fact that everyday living can require an abundance of courage. Without it, we can easily become lost, stuck, or overcome with fear, rendering us unable to cope or function.

While most often courage is seen as an act of physical courage – standing up against something that could cause us bodily or physical harm – there are also many other situations that require emotional, social, moral, intellectual, or spiritual courage. Courage requires us to be brave even when we don’t want to be.

So, as individuals, and as leaders, how can we model our own courage, and help evoke courage in others?

You can:

  • Model behavior that shows others that courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to stand up and respond in spite of it.
  • Be truthful and vulnerable in the face of uncertainty.
  • Allow others to express their fear, feel their emotions and then offer suggestions to help them let go of what is out of their control and rise up to meet each moment and each challenge as it comes.
  • Help maintain perspective. Reframe others’ mindset from the darkness of fear to the lightness of hope.
  • Ask questions and offer advice that will inspire others to move in a direction they may otherwise not have chosen.


From the outside courage looks like a choice, action, and/or behavior within reach, but it can be difficult to achieve. Just because you are a leader, it does not mean that you do not experience fear. In fact, you may experience fear differently because you are expected to help others navigate through it effectively. So, what is your experience? How do you move from fear to courage? Where are you being brave and afraid at the same time?

Our Inspiring Leadership Conversations collection offers a deeper dive into Courage.

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