A Brave Leader is a person who has the courage to defy prescribed norms and go against the tide of opinions.
What makes leaders great?
When we think of great leaders, people like Gandhi and Martin Luther King first come to mind for their ability to galvanize millions of people around a cause and create social movements that have gone down as pivotal change factors in history. Pretty incredible. Also completely unfathomable that average citizens could accomplish anything remotely close to their greatness.
Since the dawn of collective human memory, we’ve simplified oral and written narratives of leadership. Carrying through generations a universal story of the brave warrior facing physical or moral danger, fighting for justice no matter how large the threats or ramifications.
The story of a leader that is goal-driven to a fault, emotionless, often elitist, and a strategic chess player in diplomatic relations. This story romanticizes stoicism, violence and ego- legitimized especially by sensationalist Western news coverage.
This story neglects the story of the everyday leader, the community leader that has the grit, self-awareness and humbleness to be an agent of change. We see these community leaders as the brave leaders that will help their communities reach self-sufficiency, channel vulnerability into authenticity, and turn empowerment into wellbeing.
In our research and interviews with leaders from around the world, we’ve identified 3 traits that are common to all these brave leaders:
For the first trait of self-acceptance it is not only that brave leaders do not give up on their cause or mission after failure, but also that they learn to deal with disappointments and their own shortcomings. We have found it extremely insightful to study the interplay of vulnerability with persistence. As Brene Brown speak of vulnerability in the context of leadership: “They have the courage to be imperfect (...) the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others.”
For the second trait of being cause and service-driven, we found that brave leaders put their cause before their ego. In other words, furthering their cause is important than receiving external acknowledgement of their work.
For the last trait of inclusive decision-making, we found that brave leaders understand their limitations and are open and transparent about them with their colleagues, peers, and employees. They demonstrate humility and a deep self-awareness that allows them to adapt quickly to new situations and mobilize diversely-talented people around them and their cause.
We often understand bravery as relentless optimism, but at the end of the day, it’s not just about having a pessimistic or optimistic outlook, but what you do with this outlook. Do we succumb to our fears, or do we face them head on?
Anyone can find the strength within them to be an inspiring leader if they choose to cultivate the necessary traits and mindset. We are very excited and honoured to share with you the stories of those who dared to find it within them.
Welcome to The Brave Leaders Project.
Our mission is to inspire burgeoning leaders to stand up for their values and beliefs, while growing their networks to help their communities achieve self-sufficiency.
We want to build a social movement around humanistic, holistic and authentic leadership growth and community projects. We seek to dismantle the narrative of “stoic, power-hungry leadership”.
We believe in the power of authentic, human-centered storytelling to create a network of driven leaders around the world that work together to spur innovation and solve world issues. We hope that the stories we showcase will help connect our readers to the leaders whom we interview and their projects, as well as inspire younger generations to act and develop their own leadership skills.