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10 Tips for Developing Your Leadership “Cojones”

10 Tips for Developing Your Leadership “Cojones”

Dan McCarthy | Great Leadership

August 12, 2010

How? Here are 10 tips for managers (or anyone) that will help grow some leadership cojones (courage):

1. Get clear on what’s important.

Identify your core values, principles, or “leadership rules”. Let these be your guiding light. Establish a vision of who you want to be as a leader, and then begin to live up to that vision.

2. Learn how to deal with conflict.

Read books or take courses in conflict management, negotiations, influence, assertiveness, giving feedback, and/or crucial conversations. Then practice until it hurts.

3. Develop your leadership “presence”.

I’ve written posts on how to do this. Presence is more than an inner confidence – it’s a commanding physical presence as well. Like it or not, as a leader, image matters. People will size you up in less than 30 seconds, so yes, that initial greeting and handshake (avoid the “dead fish”) really do matter.

4. Ask yourself: “what’s the worst thing that could happen”?

The next time you feel the urge to challenge someone in power or take an unpopular stand, ask yourself this question: “What’s the worst thing that could happen”? Do you really think you’re going to get fired? Yelled at? Disgraced for life? Yes, there’s a slight chance that any of those things could happen, but in reality, it’s not very likely. We make up all kind of horror stories in our heads that prevent us from saying or doing what’s right. Next time, take the advice from Tom Peters, and just say “what the hell”.

5. Trial by fire.

Volunteer for a high stakes, tough assignment that will require you to make tough calls and deal with conflict. There’s no better way to learn than by earning your scars through experience. Step up and be the person who has to cut the budget, close an office, handle the next layoff, or deliver the bad news.

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