Cowards Can’t Lead: Secrets to Fueling Courage


Image source

Cowards can’t lead. Inaction, pain, and failure follow cowardly leaders. Cowardly leaders:

  1. Won’t decide.
  2. Delay, posture, and blame.
  3. Reject responsibility.

The most surprising aspect of leadership is the courage it takes. When I began, I thought leading was about excitement. Today, years later, it’s about courage.

Input from Facebook, “Leaders need courage when …”

  1. They wake up every morning.
  2. Faced with lack of direction.
  3. Experimenting.
  4. Adding a team member.
  5. Endings are necessary.
  6. Giving bad news.
  7. They’re leading and when they’re following.

See more on Facebook.

Responding with courage:

Mark Miller, in, The Heart of Leadership, writes, “Leaders respond with courage when they:

  1. Articulate the vision for the future.
  2. Build relationships with challenging people.
  3. Challenge people to grow and change.
  4. Mend broken relationships.
  5. Confront difficult problems.
  6. Make hard or unpopular decisions.

Developing courage:

You aren’t leading if you don’t feel the need to act courageously. Every meaningful act of leadership requires courage.

Mark says a person develops courage when they, “Practice taking action.” Courage takes initiative. In a word courage acts.

Talk yourself into rather than out of.
Delay drains courage.


Fear fuels courage. Think about what you and others will miss if you don’t respond with courage. Fear what won’t happen. Ask,

How am I falling short or missing out
because I refuse to take action?

Mark instills fear when he writes:

“Your missed opportunities are often no big deal in isolation. They are, however, cumulative.”

Fear is useful, but cowardice – unwillingness to act – has no place in leadership.


  1. Every meaningful act of leadership requires courage.
  2. The first way to develop courage is to habitually take action. Avoid delay.
  3. The second way to develop courage is to fear what won’t happen if you refuse or delay action.

Connect with Mark:

How have you learned to respond with courage?