Courage in leadership

Leadership is defined by many things – courage is one of them, but what is less understood is that there are different types of courage. MICHEL HOGAN

Michel Hogan

By Michel Hogan

“Courage is rightly considered the foremost of the virtues, for upon it all others depend.”
Winston Churchill

As I have said in a past blog, courage is necessary at all levels of an organisation, from speaking out in support of something you agree with, to taking a risk with a new product or service – there are many ways courage is shown on any given day.

However, nowhere is courage more important than in leadership roles. Great, courageous leaders abound throughout history, and their stories are used by way of inspiration for the rest of us. Through those stories and our own experiences, we all think we have a pretty good idea of the basic definition of courage. But what is less understood is that there are different types of courage that play different roles.

Courage is far from being the one-dimensional “hero” view that comes most readily to mind when we hear the term. Research carried out by Cindy Solomon, Inc in the US over the past five years, has identified four types of courage.

To gain a more nuanced understanding of how and where you show courage, it is worthwhile thinking about them and how they apply within your own life and leadership.

Type 1 is “Blind Courage” – trying new and different ideas with little regard for consequences or negative outcomes. Many entrepreneurs operate with blind courage.

Type 2 is “Crisis Courage” – this is most usually physical courage, where action is taken with little conscious thought or decision. It can feel like a life-or-death situation.

Type 3 is “Role Courage” – in role courage the decision to act is a foregone conclusion shaped by training and acting on job responsibilities. This is the most important type of courage for organisations and leaders to cultivate.

Type 4 is “Core Courage” – in core courage we reach into the unknown and take the risk that our course of action will be the right one for us based on our personal values and commitment.

While it seems as if some are more courageous than others, it is something that can be learned, a skill that can be strengthened through use. Read more about the four types of courage here.

As times become more challenging, we will all need to ask for a little more courage – from our leaders, from our colleagues and from ourselves.

See you next week!

Note: Full disclosure – Cindy Solomon of Cindy Solomon, Inc is an associate of Brand Alignment. My reference of her work in this blog has been made independently and there was no quid pro quo.


Alignment is Michel’s passion. Through her work with Brandology here in Australia, and Brand Alignment Group in the United States, she helps organisations align who they are, with what they do and say to build more authentic and sustainable brands.

For more Cultural Leadership blogs, click here.



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