There is a connection between leadership and courage. That is why leadership is not for the faint of heart. When you lead, you have to confront opposing forces, which are ever and always present. The concept of leading without opposition is as grounded in reality as is the Tooth Fairy, Leprechauns, and Big Foot.
Thus, when you lead, you’d better accept the reality that conflict awaits.
Great leaders do not necessarily relish conflict. But they do accept it as part of the terrain and they stand up to it. They don’t back down from it.
One of the things great leaders do is confront things like stupidity, weakness, and evil. Great leaders are not afraid of calling something or someone stupid, weak, or evil. If the leader begins by using subtlety or tact while speaking to the object of their derision, and the other party challenges the leader with a question such as, “Are you calling me evil [or weak, or stupid]?” the leader, without hesitation replies, “Yes, that is what I am labeling you, for that is what you are.” This retort is not offered for the effect of simply being insulting. It is really more for the audience that may hear it and the intent is not to impress but to instruct, not to “score points” but to make a point.
For instance, what is a pervert? Do you even know? Is one man’s pervert another man’s enlightened-progressive? Is this a case of not being able to define it but you know it when you see it? Are there any perverts out there?
If you came across a person or group that advocated practices that were perverted, would you have the courage to call him/them out on it? Or would you feel it’s not your place to judge? Perhaps you would be concerned about being seen as old-fashioned or intolerant and that concern may trump your internal sense of right and wrong. So you remain silent, or look the other way.
A leader, by contrast, would call a pervert a pervert and not care what society at large thinks. A leader understands that there are times that society needs the strength of the leaders’ convictions. Leaders are not concerned with political correctness, just correctness.
I use the example of perverts in this post, but the same principle holds true for other character flaws, such as the selfish, the mean-spirited, the dishonest, the indolent, the violent, and the reckless.
Great leaders have the courage to confront.