Dan McCarthy has been a practitioner in the field of leadership development for over 20 years. He is currently the Manager of Leadership and Management Development at a Fortune “Great Place to Work”, “Training Top 125”, and “High Impact Learning” (HILO 80) company.
He is also a great guy and one of the nominees for the Best Leadership Blog of 2010.
10 Tips For Developing Your Leadership “Cojones”
by Dan McCarthy (posted 8/7/10)
Sarah Palin recently said on Fox News Sunday that President Obama doesn’t have “the cojones” to effectively address the issue of illegal immigration.
Yikes, when’s the last time you heard a political leader accused of that? Actually, according to my extensive 10 minutes worth of Google research, not since then-U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright famously said in 1996 that Cuba’s shooting down of planes flown by anti-Castro exiles was “not cojones” but “cowardice.”
So what does it mean to “not have the cojones” as a leader, and does it really matter? And at the risk of being crude, what exactly are “cojones”?
Yes, Great Leadership will be the first to tackle these tough questions.
We’ll start with a definition. According to Wikipedia, “Cojones is a vulgar Spanish word for testicles, denoting courage. In English, as a loanword, it similarly means courage or brazenness.”
So we’re talking about leadership courage here. And in the context of leadership courage, it’s a gender neutral thing.
Does courage matter? According to most of the research on leadership effectiveness I’ve seen, courage ranks pretty high as an important leadership characteristic.
We all know this, right? We sure know it when we don’t see it. Who wants to work for a manager that:
Won’t take tough stands with others
Doesn’t step up to the issues
Is intimidated by others in power
Won’t look out for the best interests of the team
Can’t make a tough decision
In other words, a wimp.
As a leader, I would hate to be called out as a wimp. Ouch. However, if it happens to you, there is hope. Like any valid leadership characteristic, there is no “courage gene”. Someone does not emerge from the womb courageous – it’s something that can be learned and developed.
How? Here are 10 tips for managers (or anyone) that will help grow some leadership cojones (courage):
Maybe you are put off by Dan’s use of the word cojones – I remember that many were when former Governor Palin used that phrase back in July. Maybe you don’t like being thought of as a wimp either.
Don’t lose sight of Dan’s important point because you’d choose different words to make it.
Followers want courageous leaders. Our organizations need courageous leaders. In reality, as a leader, helping people move towards a desired future, requires courage almost by definition.
Is it possible to go someplace no one has been before without some amount of courage? When you are in the front of the pack you will be the first to experience uncetainty. You will be the first to see new sights, you will be the first to experience pressure, confusion and perhaps condemnation.
As a leader you must recognize these facts. To become a Remarkable leader, follow Dan’s suggestions, welcome your role and know that your courage matters – both to those that follow and the results you will achieve together.
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