Leaders must overcome defeatism and face harsh realities | Sunday Observer

Leaders must overcome defeatism and face harsh realities

The recent terrorist attack and its negative implications on the economy pose new challenges for Sri Lankan leaders. The environment was already bad. Yet, you have to perform. Is this the first time you are facing this issue – surely your business has gone through similar challenges before.

Leadership is not about what the leader is made out of, but what the leader demonstrates in day-to-day action. It is about how he or she builds the confidence of everyone else in tough environments that are almost impossible to navigate.

Leaders are responsible for the big structures that serve as the cornerstones of confidence, and for the human touches that shape a positive emotional climate to inspire and motivate people. Confidence alone worked in the old environment and we all benefitted from practicing it. But times have changed demanding finer, more aggressive and deeper inner thoughts and skills to stay ahead of the game.

Consider the level and nature of competition and challenges today. They are unpredictable, fierce, dirty and cut-throat. It is not the same old conditions to play the game in. Continue to nurture the skills you have been depending on previously, after all they have taken you this far. But think of new skills needed to effectively deal with the changes. A sense of bravery gives you the ability to confront these changed situations better.

‘Physical bravery’ is seen through body language, while ‘moral bravery’ is not. It’s the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition. And both are equally important – one in isolation has very little effect.

Battle after battle

Battle after battle is the reality of the business world - when will we see the end of discouraging news and negative developments? - Never? Defeatism is a natural feeling even when wining today, as the future is uncertain.

Leaders encounter harsh realities but can never show less than sheer bravery and optimism in the eyes of followers. A leader needs to project bravery for the team to share the same feeling when approaching more aggressive battles for success.

A leader arguably should be quite an actor. Changing moods, balancing emotions and sending positive signals to the team is a fundamental need to build a sense of hope and confidence. This process has a reciprocal effect – so it helps the leader too, to stay on course.

Perhaps the leadership trait most admired by followers is bravery in any situation. Followers like to see leaders thinking big and showing courage.

This is a leadership trait most entrepreneurs have in spades. Bravery is infectious and inspirational – and works. Our history teaches us many real examples of bravery. So its inherent in us but how many of us use this trait to add something to life.

At the end of the day, leadership is about having the guts to take tough decisions and making them work through the people. If someone is afraid to take and commit to decisions, all of the communication and empowerment in the world won’t make a squat of a difference.