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Emotional Courage & Leadership

You CAN grow past the place you’ve gotten “stuck”, but you must be willing to go down the path of vulnerability and feeling.

Would you say your leadership is marked with exceptional emotional courage? If not, Peter Bregman (the #1 Executive Coach in the world, according to Leading Global Coaches and Marshall Goldsmith, London 2019) would argue that you can’t expect to uplevel your business. Why?

Because, taking your leadership to the next level requires both emotional intelligence and emotional maturity. Developing those traits takes bravery! Emotional courage is a different kind of courage. Think of it as your willingness to feel.

Furthermore, it’s our commitment to understanding that (despite contrary conditioning) we can’t move forward if we’re not feeling! As we develop emotional courage, we’ll be better able to connect with others, commit to what truly matters, and develop our confidence in ourselves.

(You can listen to this full episode on the podcast interview!)
Peter Bregman is recognized as the #1 Executive Coach in the world (Leading Global Coaches and Marshall Goldsmith, London 2019). He is ranked as a top 30 Thought Leader to Watch in 2019 (Thinkers50) and shortlisted as the  #1 Leadership Thinker in the World (Thinkers50). 

Peter is the CEO of Bregman Partners, an executive coaching company that helps leaders develop their emotional courage, confidence in themselves, connection to others, and commitment to what matters so that they can become exceptional leaders and stellar human beings for the sake of themselves, their families, their teams, their companies, and the world. Peter is the host of the Bregman Leadership Podcast and the award winning, bestselling author of Leading with Emotional Courage. More: www.BregmanPartners.com

Trained Away from Feelings

In reference to what I said earlier about contrary conditioning: Many of us in leadership positions have been trained AWAY from feeling, and certainly from expressing those feelings when we are aware of them. Too many people seem to equate leadership with being fearless, or at least appearing that way, and that’s a trap!

However, as Peter and I discussed; emotional courage is about the willingness to feel.

Here’s an example of how a lack of emotional courage can result in a failure to take action.

Right now: think about a difficult conversation you’re NOT having. This is a conversation you know you need to have, but you’ve avoided thus far.

  • Do you know everything you need to know in order to have that conversation?
  • Are you skilled enough to have the conversation?
  • Have you had the time and opportunity to have the conversation?

For most of us, the answers there are “Yes, yes, and yes”. Often our temptation is to think we need to “solve” for knowledge, skill, and opportunity when what we are missing is emotional courage.

What is truly in the way is our fear of the feelings that will come up as a result of that conversation. 

After all, you may have to feel things you won’t be comfortable feeling, such as anger, embarrassment, hurt, shame or something else you don’t like. And because you don’t want to risk feeling those things, you avoid the conversation altogether…

Sound even vaguely familiar? 

Lack of emotional courage leads to lack of action. 

“Action is the currency of the brave” 

~Dov Baron.

In case you’ve ever wondered; this can explain why we often procrastinate most on the things that matter most to us. After all, the closer something feels and the more emotions are connected to it, the more likely we are to attempt to avoid it. 

On the flipside, however, there is this profound truth:

If you’re willing to feel everything, you can do anything.

Q: What task(s) have you been avoiding, and what feelings are connected with it?

Great Leaders Feel

You will never become a great leader if you cannot feel. All great leaders have had to embrace the emotional courage that allows them to face hard things and engage with hard conversations.

This emotional courage may also cause you to confront other things you don’t want to deal with, or engage with people or conversations you may have preferred to avoid. Leaders who desire to be great cannot choose to “opt out” of experiences that will require this level of feeling.

(For an interesting note on how a lack of emotional courage can also result in an aversion to joy, listen in to the full interview!)

Peter’s philosophy is that leadership is directly tied to the 4 C’s: confidence in themselves, connection to others, commitment to what matters, and emotional courage. 

He shares that a dedication to growth in all of these areas is key to becoming a great leader. You must be willing to be seen without your mask, show up in your imperfections, and have confidence in not being perfect. As you do so, you’ll demonstrate true confidence in yourself, which is marked by self-awareness and NOT by bravado.

Q: Which of the 4 C’s do you think is your strongest area? Your weakest?

Why It Matters For You

Are you already in the C-Suite? Feeling pretty good about your status and success so far?

Why would someone like YOU care about showing up with emotional courage?

Well, this is the real stuff. Without a willingness to feel, you will not move onward and upward. Here’s the two biggest issues you’ll likely run into:

Your success is capped when you refuse to grow past where you are now. (Go back and read that line again and let it really sink in.)  

If you’re comfortable staying where you are, then don’t worry about it. But if you’re getting burned out, you’re dealing with high turnover, growth is stagnant, or you’re otherwise just not getting anywhere…


You need to explore emotional courage.

This may be in addressing hard truths about your products, your services, or your behavior as a boss in the past. There may be hard things to address, but remember…

If you’re willing to feel everything, you can do anything.

You CAN grow past the place you’ve gotten “stuck”, but you must be willing to go down the path of vulnerability and feeling.

Q: What do you need to acknowledge, address, and feel in order to grow to the next level?

This interview was absolutely phenomenal; to get the full experience, listen in today!

With gratitude,
Dov Baron, Expert on Leadership, presents his Authentic Leadership Matrix!


My Authentic Leadership Matrix is free this link! Why? Because one of the questions I’m most often asked is; What authentic leadership is and how do we define it? As a result, with years of experience and extensive requests, I created the Authentic Leadership Matrix. It’s designed to give you a clear process of how to perform in each of the five main areas that are required for you to become a world-class authentic leader. Start your yes and no evaluation to discover your leadership traits here: https://matrix.fullmontyleadership.com

Want to retain your top talent? Then my “Fiercely Loyal” book is for you! Plus get your free: “How to instantly bond any team” infographic.

Copyright: Dov Baron International© 2020

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