There are two reasons people separate themselves from the crowd: they are either bold leaders or timid followers. The rest of the herd sticks together.

Bold leaders move toward obstacles and do not let hesitation or doubt impede their progress. Timid followers lurk behind because they are afraid of obstacles and look for ways to avoid them.

As a counterintelligence agent, I looked for both personalities in the targets I attempted to recruit to work for the U.S. government. The blue-flamer often rushed ahead; they could be a good target if they failed to use good judgment. The slackers represented the other end of the spectrum; they were timid souls who always looked for the easy way out. Often, that meant cooperating with the FBI.

Why is bold leadership important? There is a saying in the FBI: no arrest goes according to plan. Agents know better than anyone that circumstances can change without warning. It’s essential that a leader be bold enough to adapt and make effective decisions under pressure.

A leader’s success, in any environment, is based on their ability to manage the risk that presents itself. Simply stated, bold leaders understand how to exploit and mitigate risk; this is why they are more successful.

Bold leaders are not pushy, loud, or bossy. They do voice their opinion, take charge, and energize the rest of the team.

Let’s take a closer look at the 5 reasons why bold leaders are remarkably successful:

1. They Hide Their Weaknesses

Everyone has weaknesses so it’s stupid and counterproductive to not acknowledge them, at least to yourself. It’s also to your advantage to become equally aware of your strengths. An awareness of your strengths and weaknesses allows you the opportunity to approach a volatile situation with a strategy that places your best foot forward.

When you appear as a bold leader, your weaknesses are hidden behind the actions of someone who is confident of their strengths and is making use of them.

How To Make It Work For You:

  • Uncover your weaknesses so you can learn how to manage them.
  • Don’t spend a great amount of time trying to turn them into strengths because it will never happen.
  • Instead, put your time and effort into your strengths so you can continue to build them up.
  • Reassess yourself on a regular basis so you are not surprised when a weakness rears its ugly head.

2. They Know Perception Is Reality

As a kid who grew up on a remote cattle ranch in the middle of Wyoming, I watched as predators snuck up on the hesitant prey. I learned early in life that once you hesitate, you show yourself as weak and expendable.

They way people perceive us, by our actions and the words we use, will guide the way they treat us. If we present ourselves as victims, guess what? That’s how we’ll be treated! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out: if you indicate a lack of confidence in yourself, it will bring out the tiger in your competition.

How To Make It Work For You:

  • Remember that a bold leader is not someone who is cocky and aggressive.
  • Work on building up your strengths now. When you have confidence in your abilities, there will be no need to go on the defensive when you’re confronted with an obstacle or challenge.
  • Present yourself as a bold leader who is thorough, confident, and authoritative.

3. They Appreciate Stealth

Authors have described the recruitment of foreign spies as an act of seduction. More often, it is the stealth of a snake that has circled his prey long enough to know when to strike.

In the same way, bold leaders learn a great deal when they sit in silence during negotiations and listen to others. They make no sudden move to intimidate or alarm the challenge that sits before them. All the while, however, their mind works to identify the best way to disarm the opposition and sway the negotiation toward a more favorable outcome.

Bold leaders do not make rash decisions. They maximize their chances of success and investigate the challenge before they make a decision.

How To Make It Work For You:

  • Stealth is an art form because it takes its adversary by surprise.
  • Recognize that the loudest voice is not always the smartest one.
  • Conduct due diligence and strike when you’ve gathered enough information to make an effective and successful decision.

4. They Create An Environment Of Continual Improvement

Continual improvement demands that bold leaders feel comfortable holding the tension between failure and risk. They learn how to use risk to their advantage, and at the same time, mitigate catastrophic risk so they can protect their team.

No one is comfortable with failure, but it is the flip side of success. They are two sides of the same coin. Bold leaders do not back away from failure. Instead, they learn from each iteration and apply it to the next challenge.

Continual improvement and innovation challenge existing practices. They also produce energy and adrenaline. They allow each team member to think in fresh ways about ways to accomplish a goal. Bold leaders are not afraid to reward a team’s insightful experiment even if it is a failure. This will help you create partnerships within your team to help them learn and reboot from their failure.

How To Make It Work For You:

  • Distinguish between the areas where risk is encouraged and the areas where it is not.
  • Use words like experiment and exploring to describe a project instead of successful or unsuccessful.
  • Keep risks small so they are fast and nimble.
  • Fund each clearly defined phase of the project so everyone knows the budget.

5. They Balance Risk-Taking

Bold leaders seldom act in extremes; they are not risk-adverse, nor are they careless. They strike a balance between the two. They don’t sit around and wait for the perfect opportunity before they step in because it is seldom that an opportunity has no risk. Instead, they make the most out of their circumstances. They have mental toughness—they believe they will prevail in their circumstances rather than expect their circumstances to change.

Successful people tend to look for the small wins in every situation. The power of positivity leads to consistent small wins. Each small win spells success. Success not only attracts others, it provides momentum.

How To Make It Work For You:

  • Start with a small battle you think you can win.
  • Assess the situation and understand the problem.
  • Communicate your goals to your team.
  • Map out a strategy.
  • Develop a process to gather accurate information in a timely manner.

© 2018 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

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Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.”

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