Brian Eagar is the Chief Executive of TowerStone Leadership Centre. Photo: Supplied

DURBAN – The efforts we put into inspiring and empowering our teams will not yield results if we lack the courage to lead the way. 

Following the terror attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand earlier this year Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern displayed a tremendous amount of courage as she rallied the country’s leaders to stand in solidarity to support the victims, their families and the country. Her leadership during this time landed her a spot on the Time 100 Influential People of 2019 list.  
Courageous leadership enhances discretionary effort and engagement levels, which increases performance and profitability. Ardern’s courage shone through in her quick response to the attack, showing humility and promoting local and international support irrespective of race and culture. Here are just a few measures we as leaders need to take in order to lead our teams boldly: 

Display vulnerability

Vulnerability is not a weakness; it is a fundamental strength. We can only grow if we are vulnerable, reflect on our behaviour, embrace feedback and learn from our mistakes. Our vulnerability opens us to learning, enabling us to grow as teams, thereby growing the organisation. If we set the example, our teams will in turn be inspired to commit to improving how they show up. 

Ardern has publicly shared that she is proudly driven by compassion and empathy which has made her vulnerable to scrutiny from her critics. Still she has remained true to her leadership style and held others accountable. 

Hold your team accountable 

We often talk about holding our teams accountable but rarely do because we fear the consequences. Not holding our teams accountable perpetuates a cycle of poor performance often resulting in us doing the work for the team or having to let a team member go. It is important to step up to the plate and own our voice to hold others accountable for achieving results. 

Therefore, we must understand that there needs to be emotion for change to take place. Allowing a person to become aware of the emotion will help them grow as an individual. During a parliamentary address following the attacks, Ardern committed to holding online sharing platforms such as Google and Facebook accountable for taking responsibility of the content shared on their platforms. 

This follows the live streaming of the attack on Facebook. Not only did she call on social media to adapt, she also adapted legislation accordingly. 

Adapting to stay relevant 

We must be able to adapt our views, and even our vision, according to the knowledge we gain. It is important to remain open-minded to learn new trends and embrace changes in our industries. Continually adapting to an environment that is constantly shifting, as well as to our customer’s evolving needs, is vital for remaining relevant and building sustainability. 

We must be brave enough to make decisions that will ensure short-term profitability as well as long-term sustainability. In Ardern’s case, she decided to implement a nationwide ban on military style semi-automatic and assault rifles less than four weeks following the attack. 
So why should we as leaders act boldly? As brand custodians, we are ultimately accountable for ensuring that all efforts and investments are focused on contributing to both short- and long-term sustainability. 

Embracing these points will encourage our teams to follow suit. By acting courageously, Ardern was able to pull a nation together in a time of crisis where many others have caused a divide when faced with similar adversities. 

Brian Eagar is the Chief Executive of TowerStone Leadership Centre. The views expressed here are his own.