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Leadership Isn't For Cowards: How to Drive Performance by Challenging People and Confronting Problems

ISBN: 978-1-118-17683-2
240 pages
June 2012
US $24.95 Add to Cart

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Business & Finance, Self Improvement


June 13, 2012
Hoboken, NJ

16 Signs You May Be Practicing Cowardly Leadership

Are You Leading from a Place of Fear?

It’s a tricky time to be a leader. With the economy so unforgiving right now, making smart business decisions is critical. That’s true not just in terms of strategy (whether to change your product mix or move into a new marketplace) but also relationships (whether to fire the toxic high performer or address a conflict head-on). All actions have consequences. So does lack of action. And with the margin for error so slim, you want to make sure you’re thinking as coolly and clearly as possible.

Mike Staver’s advice? Don’t let fear cloud your decision making.

“Don’t get me wrong, we all feel fear,” says Staver, author of Leadership Isn’t for Cowards:How to Drive Performance by Challenging People and Confronting Problems (Wiley, June 2012, ISBN: 978-1-118-17683-2, $24.95). “What separates the proverbial men from the boys, and women from the girls, is how we respond to that fear. Courageous leaders face what needs to be faced and do what needs to be done. Cowardly leaders make excuses, hide their heads in the sand, and generally take the easy way out.”

In his book, Staver explores the hidden fears that keep us from taking the quick, decisive actions courageous leadership requires, and offers a wealth of practical tips for conquering them. He explains that, besides harming your company and crippling your career potential, fear-centered leadership can hurt the very people you are supposed to be guiding and nurturing: your employees.  

By definition, says Staver, all leaders “mess with people’s lives.” That’s why it’s so important to make sure you’re leading from a place of clarity and awareness—courage—and not letting fear drive your decisions.

“Whether you’re messing with their lives in a positive, growth-inspiring way or a negative, spirit-crushing way depends on the clarity with which you make decisions and execute,” he explains. “Fear obscures that clarity—especially fear that masquerades as something else.”

You don’t have to be an out-and-out coward to let fear impact your leadership.  Many people are unaware of how profoundly fear influences their decision making. Staver says you may be leading from a place of fear if the following apply to you:

  • You frequently take the easy way out
  • You pretend you don’t know what you actually know
  • You fall victim to “shiny ball” syndrome
  • You ignore what’s causing “weight and drag” in your company
  • You refuse to balance your head and your gut
  • You hide behind the “I’m not quite ready” excuse
  • You forsake the present in favor of the future or the past
  • You see only the information that agrees with your beliefs
  • You’re constantly blaming others
  • You apply more pressure instead of looking for pinch points
  • You’re too harsh
  • You’re an over-recognizer
  • You reward effort rather than achievement
  • You’re a helicopter leader
  • You solve problems for people
  • Mental clutter is keeping you from noticing

“Fear-centered leadership wreaks havoc with your entire life,” says Staver. “The anxiety that comes from not doing what you know deep down needs to be done—and from managing the fallout from your poor decisions—drains the energy you could be spending on friends, family, and the outside interests that make life worth living.”