Building the Courage to Make Changes

Being in a leadership role sometimes requires making hard decisions and choosing a path that doesn’t offer the least resistance. By building the courage it takes to make changes, you are opening your business up to new opportunities for growth.

Many managers are afraid to add to the emotional burdens of a workforce that is already seeing unprecedented hardship thanks to the economic challenges faced by many companies. As a result, many are afraid to take a chance that may help grow their business.

Fear can often get in the way of opportunities for positive change and hold you and your business back. Having the courage to embrace these opportunities is important. You must develop courage as well as the skill and ability to use it. Following are five attitudes that you and your staff should embrace to develop courage.

Know yourself and your business. It’s difficult to have courage when you’re unclear of your guiding values and principles. What do you stand for? What is your company’s mission? Being tuned into who you are, and what your business strives for, is the foundation for any changes and improvements you can make. Having this knowledge holds you firm when implementing changes and meeting challenges.

Do what’s right, not what feels good. Often, courage means making uncomfortable choices rather than choosing the path of least resistance. A difficult decision won’t always feel good in the moment, but if you’re connected with your principles then you’ll know the right course of action. Always remember to maintain your ethical ground in these moments.

Be flexible and open to change. If you find yourself saying, “But we’ve always done it this way,” then you may really be responding to fear of change. Fear is the opposite of courage. You need to have the courage to challenge the norm if changing it could mean a better outcome for your business.

Accept criticism. When facing a challenge, you will receive criticism from not just yourself, but also your staff. Graciously and constructively listen to their criticism. They may have a valid perspective on the situation that you cannot see from your position as leader.

Be willing to admit mistakes. There have likely been times when you confidently made what you thought was the right decision, only to find later that you were wrong. Making mistakes is a large part of being human and being a business owner. Be willing to admit when you’re wrong and discuss what went wrong with staff. Those wrong turns are learning opportunities that should be shared with employees.

Fear and uncertainty make it difficult to see beyond immediate circumstances. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to seek out the opportunities in a situation and lead your organization to success.

Organizations today need courageous leaders who can guide them through troubled times and help them turn around in spite of the challenges. You can create your own attitude for success. It takes practice and consistent effort to be courageous in making decisions for your business, but by doing so you will be on your way to creating a more successful business.

Danita Johnson Hughes, Ph.D. is a healthcare industry executive, public speaker and author of the forthcoming “Turnaround.” In her first book, “Power from Within,” Danita shares her “Power Principles for Success” that helped her overcome meager beginnings and achieve professional, community and personal success. For more information, visit