The Business Journal’s blog recently quoted Dr. Martin Groder: “In business and personal life, to create true integrity and lasting effectiveness you need to develop the courage to move towards the sound of the gunfire.”

Leadership takes courage. Yet even well-meaning leaders can lose their nerve and then justify not stepping up to the plate. Here are some common excuses for not acting courageously, even when we know it is the right thing to do.

Some people won’t like it. That’s okay. They won’t be running the organization in a few years. You will. If your critics are above you in the chain of command, use caution, but continue¬† to speak your mind when it’s critical to the organization’s success. (If you can’t, it’s time to leave.)

It’s more work. Perhaps. Is it the right work, the stuff that will move your company ahead? If so, do it. Stop doing some of the comfortable-but-less-critical things you’re doing now.

It’s too risky, and I’m not sure it will work out. Life is a gamble, and you can’t always calculate the risk. In the words of Win Borden, “If you wait until you’re sure it’s right, you’ll probably never do much of anything.” Consult with the right people, get your facts straight and move ahead.

It’s not the right time. If not now, when? Don’t allow yourself to put it off indefinitely.

I don’t want to seem pushy. You don’t need to be loud and obnoxious. You do need to be firm, fact-based and confident.

No one else is doing it. Wrong. There are leaders out there (okay, maybe not in every organization) who put their necks on the line daily. Be one of those.

No one will listen. Seek feedback from others to find out if you have the ear of the organization’s movers and shakers. If not, craft a plan to boost your credibility and build trust.

I’m okay with things as they are. Then why are you reading this post? Seriously, if there’s not one thing you’re passionate about or impatient to achieve, are you really a leader?

I’m more comfortable taking little steps. Don’t try for a 3-yard gain when you need a Hail Mary 50-yard pass to do the job. Incremental steps work sometimes, but are you avoiding a more risky, but better, alternative?

I’m afraid. So are other leaders. They simply choose to remain composed and focused on what matters most.

Acting courageously can feel like you’re sticking your neck out above the ramparts while the bullets are flying. Who would do that? People who want only the best for their organization and its people – true leaders who won’t settle for less than true success.

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