One of the most important traits a leader can possess is courage. In fact, let me be direct . . . the greatest leaders are willing to courageously die for the cause and for the team.
Before you think I am nuts, I do not mean they are literally willing to die. But they are willing to die to themselves, to make the most sacrifices, and to lead by serving. All practices that require massive amounts of courage.
My favorite courage words were penned by Alfred Lord Tennyson in his poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade. The first two stanzas set the tone for the band of 600, the heroes of the poem.
Tennyson writes . . .Half a league, half a league, Half a league onward, All in the valley of Death Rode the six hundred. “Forward, the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns!” he said: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred. “Forward, the Light Brigade!” Was there a man dismayed? Not tho’ the soldiers knew Someone had blundered: Theirs was not to make reply, Theirs was not to reason why, Theirs was but to do and die: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.
The rest of the poem, which you can read here, is just as powerful. Tennyson’s words challenge me to question my courage. Am I brave enough to sacrifice, to consider the needs of others before I think of myself, to serve rather than be served?
How about you? When was the last time you demonstrated that kind of leadership courage? The last time you charged when others were retreating?
Maybe it is time to turn around and head into the fire – to charge into the valley of death, without hesitation. 600 others made that choice one time and now they are immortalized.
Will you be remembered? I suspect you will improve your odds if you choose to charge.
Can you think of a modern example of a team or a leader who is dying to self and putting others first?