Saddle Up and Lead

by  Claudio Morelli  |  Self Leadership

All leaders have been in a position where they are reluctant to tackle a difficult issue or to deal with a conflictual situation. Faced with these situations the predominant act for some is non-action and avoidance. Although I do not like to admit it,  I have been in this situation and if you are honest with yourself, I am sure that you have as well.

But what causes leaders to get stuck? What causes a leader to become immobilized? What prevents a leader from moving beyond their comfort zone and work through difficult situations when their leadership is challenged and sometimes threatened?

It is FEAR. 

In his soon to be published book, The Power of Starting Something Stupid, Richie Norton describes fear as “causing us to exercise bad judgment and to make decisions from an emotional, unreliable and downright unhealthy state of mind – all significant roadblocks on our way to success.” Norton goes on to state that if “fear is not properly mitigated and overcome, it can be absolutely debilitating. Ultimately, that’s why so many people stay stuck. They’re so afraid of making the wrong choice, heading the wrong direction, or looking stupid, that they don’t ever go anywhere at all.”

Craig Groeschel in his book Soul Detox outlines fear of loss, rejection, failure and fear of the unknown as types of fear that immobilizes people. He encourages people to break free of fear and act courageously. To demonstrate the definition of courage stated by Robert Anthony where, “Courage is the willingness to be afraid and act anyway.”

What causes leaders to confront fear and act courageously? What motivates them to ultimately act?

At times a leader acts out of necessity as it is an expectation of the job. Intentional and deliberate action occurs swiftly, however, in situations where one’s credibility and integrity are questioned or at risk, or when inaction will undermine your leadership. It is the effective leader who chooses to act courageously and decisively.

These courageous leaders embrace adversity. When faced with challenges, conflict and difficult decisions they leaders overcome fear, they persevere and act with conviction. It stretches them. It pushes them out of their comfort zone and it is risky. But it is worth it. All leaders will eventually face the choice of having to decide to act courageously and embrace arduous issues and situations, or to neglect and avoid them.

The most effective and influential leaders chose to act courageously. To face ones fears is not always easy. However, it is the difficult issues and situations that ultimately determine a leader’s effectiveness and influence. Courageous leaders are respected, admired and achieve success. As Richie Norton summarizes, “Learning how to effectively manage and work through fear is a high-performance skill that leads to achieving goals.”

So when faced with challenging situations do not shy away. Embrace the fear and tackle the tough issues head on. Or as John Wayne puts it best, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.” So “saddle up” and be a courageous leader.

When have you faced a situation where you had to demonstrate courageous leadership? What was the outcome?


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What People Are Saying

Mike Manciel  |  22 Feb 2013  |  Reply

Great post. I always enjoy reading post that encourages and promotes stepping outside of our comfort zones. Keep up the good work… Have a great one.

Claudio Morelli  |  22 Feb 2013  |  Reply

Thank you Mike. Most of the difficult decisions I and my team had to make were ones where you had to risk and be courageous. Fortunately, most, but not all, generated positive outcomes.
Your kind comments are appreciated.

Regards, Claudio

Susan Mazza  |  22 Feb 2013  |  Reply

For better or worse I seem to be wired to leap first and then realize just how afraid I am. What that has taught me though is the power of a strongly held commitment to propel us past our fear.

One of the scariest things for me just a few short years ago was commenting on blogs. Yes commenting. I didn’t even have a blog yet. My fear was that I would say something stupid or wrong for all the world to see. Even though I knew in the scheme of things few people would read what I had to say it didn’t matter. Logic didn’t help. Fear is not rational.

With a strong commitment to something bigger than your fear and a willingness to act in spite of it I believe we can overcome any fear. Some fears persist in spite of continued action, this fear has fortunately been put to rest!

Ian Grant  |  22 Feb 2013  |  Reply

Susan, great comment! I don’t think I spotted a single stupid thing! =) So many are afraid to comment. When I hold webinars for the company I work for, I ask anyone if they have any questions at the very end. Sometimes the silence lingers, and as I am about to thank everyone for attending, a brave individual finally musters up the courage to ask the first question. After that, all of a sudden, everyone has a question to ask! It’s interesting to see that many just don’t want to be the first to speak up. I think the same thing applies to the first comment on a blog post as well.

Claudio Morelli  |  22 Feb 2013  |  Reply

Susan, your comments hit the mark completely. It is the commitment to persevere and move forward and risk that is the most difficult step. I chuckled when I read your initial fear about commenting on blogs as I had the same fear. In fact, I would spend quite a bit of time editing my comments before I posted them. I actually still catch myself repeating that behaviour at times. I still get anxious posting on Twitter but have tried hard to “saddle up” and tweet.

Thanks for commenting and sharing your thoughts. Have a great weekend.


Ian Grant  |  22 Feb 2013  |  Reply

Thanks for the well-written article Claudio! I have shared on the various SM outlets. =)

Claudio Morelli  |  22 Feb 2013  |  Reply

Thank you Ian. Appreciate it. Have a great weekend.


Mike Henry  |  22 Feb 2013  |  Reply

I love the reference to the old John Wayne quote among others. To me, courage is simply deciding something else is more important. When I focus on the something else, then I get the courage to push through. I choose to focus on the something else. One of those things is that I want to be a person who acts. When fear tempts me to avoid action, I remember that being a person of action is more important. When we can remember what’s more important, fear no longer controls us.

Thanks for the great post! Mike…

Claudio Morelli  |  22 Feb 2013  |  Reply

Agree Mike. Action does conquer the fear and helps to push through the fear. My son reminded me of the John Wayne quote when we were discussing how fear can hold you back. All the best and thanks for your comments.

Regards, Claudio

Hemad  |  25 Feb 2013  |  Reply

Love this post. Courage is absolutely the most important characteristic when it comes to leadership. I just wrote a post on the exact same topic about how bravery is the core to a significant leader. Keep up the great writing and I will definitely be checking back in to read more of your stuff! Take care!


Claudio Morelli  |  26 Feb 2013  |  Reply

Hemad, thank you so much for your encouraging comments. I admire and willingly follow leaders who demonstrate bravery and courage under difficult circumstances. It is an integral core for sure.

Kind regards, Claudio

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