“Knowledge is Power” Sir Francis Bacon
The purpose of this series is to give those who want to be good leaders, ideas on the how of develop the courage necessary to lead. We know the traits we need to have but how do we gain the courage to lead. This article will focus on the importance of knowledge and how, developed in you, you can become a courageous leader.
What have you done to stay relevant in your knowledge? How much time have you invested today or this week to become a better leader? To be a courageous leader, you must constantly be developing your knowledge about many things around you. First, it should be in the professional realm in which you operate but you should be well rounded in your knowledge. I have spoken to many officers who complain that their department is behind the times.
When I ask how long their chief has been an officer, the answer almost always reflects the amount of years they feel the department is behind. Attend any department training session and you will find a real lack of “leadership” in attendance. You must educate yourself and that includes everyone from the chief to the new boot. We are all leaders and courage is a necessary trait for everyone who wishes to be a good leader. It is up to you to invest the time. I have read 7 books in the last 6 months and reviewed countless articles, videos and podcasts. Be creative for you and your people when seeking education but failure to become knowledgeable leaves you weak and ineffective.
Remember “knowledge is power” and many poor leaders will keep their knowledge to themselves in the hopes of being indispensable. You obviously learned from others and found those teachers valuable. Sharing your knowledge with others doesn’t make you weak but courageous.
Be courageous enough to develop them and make them better people. Be courageous enough to continue to learn and be a resource to others. You should make it a point each day to share your knowledge with someone who would benefit from your instruction, then go back to the well and draw more knowledge to share tomorrow. What could you be doing to create an organizational culture that celebrates and rewards learning?
Knowledge of Others
How much do you know about the people you are leading? Do you know who they are? Their hopes, dreams and desires? How can you lead them if you don’t know where they are going? There is a saying that “people won’t care to know until they know you care.” If you want to become a good leader, you will need to dedicate the time to know your people as people.
Take the time to talk to those you share influence and leadership with. If you want to be a leader that develops courage, ask people their thoughts on what needs to be done or what is being done. Cowards won’t want to know but you are looking to develop courage. Be courageous enough to listen to others’ thoughts and be influenced by them.
Borrowed Knowledge – knowing your limits
Some of the best leaders I know or know of, don’t know it all but they aren’t afraid to surround themselves with people who do. Being a leader doesn’t mean you have to know everything. Be willing to allow people to be experts in their own areas. I have seen many leaders stand before a microphone because they feel they must be the expert. Don’t be afraid to address the executive things and then call on the experts to explain or at least advise. It is impossible to know everything and is a sign of weakness to pretend you do. Courage allows you to be good at what you do and that should include the courage to recognize the experts, around and administratively, under you.
Moral courage is a rare trait because there are consequences when we take risk. People don’t like their security, image or position endangered so most play it safe. Real leadership takes courage and gaining knowledge will give you the strength to stand when you have the answers necessary to address the certain challenges you will receive.
Editor’s Note: This is the 5th Article in the “Creating Courage” series by Chief Tim Barfield. It is the best series of articles on this profession that you will read. We highly recommend the other articles in the series that we have listed below: