Mickey Connolly, CEO of Conversant and a colleague whom I greatly admire recently said, “Courage is the victory of purpose over fear.” The more I think about this statement, the more I am coming to believe that it is central to the way of a leader. All of my clients are people in responsible leadership positions with years of experience in dealing with challenging business situations, personnel decisions, cash crises and so on. They are continually facing choices about how to respond to a variety of problems. When they talk with me about these choices, often they are describing scenarios that they want to avoid and fear they can’t. Firing a longstanding employee. Losing an important customer. Missing a quarterly earnings target. In the face of an unattractive future, we ask ourselves what to do. Whether we respond from our purposes or from our fears determines our course of action. Knowing we are afraid and still acting purposefully is the essential thing. Catching ourselves in the act of being human, that is being afraid of failing, and then choosing to say, “yes, and my purpose requires me to act”, that is leading.

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