“I’ve just had my 360-degree review and the feedback I received was that I’m unpredictable,” said my client. “Ann, next week, could you please sit down with all of them, thank them for the feedback and ask them what I should do to better myself?” When I asked my client why they could not lead this conversation themselves, and create a moment of intimacy and vulnerability, it was clear that it was a step that felt too big and too far out of reach.

This is not an isolated case. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve met several leaders across various industries. When I asked whether they could share their fears with their teams, the overriding response was that they felt they must not be vulnerable. The only way to protect themselves was to don the armour.

So often we think of courage as an inherent trait. However, it’s less about who you are inherently and more about how you behave in difficult situations. The true underlying obstacle to Courageous Leadership is our negative response to our fears.

When things get tough, do you lean into vulnerability and get curious? Or do you self-protect in ways that move you away from your values? Putting the armour on provides a false sense of security as your greater risk becomes losing your authenticity and amplifying your story of “I am not enough”.

We know that for people to fully show up, we must be vigilant about creating a culture in which people feel safe, seen, heard and respected. Courageous leaders must care for and be deeply connected to the people they lead. We need real courage to recognise when it’s time to take that armour off. So how about we start today?