Courageous Leadership at American Income Life
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill
What is courage? It is simply acting on what we should do, regardless of any fear we may have. It is the choice to disregard worry. It is the choice to do right, to pursue our dreams, to be successful people, to lead the way for others. Courage changes lives.
People say it all the time: “I wish I could be a great leader.” Or, “I would sure like to have the kind of business success that person has.” What they really mean, if you cut right down to it, is they would like to reap the rewards of business and leadership enjoyed by the person they are talking about. That is what they really want.
People at American Income Life think the same way. They look at others who are successful and ask, how did they achieve that result? What are they doing different? How can I achieve that level of success? Whether it is at the SGA level or at the agent level, what you really have to ask yourself is are you willing to do what that person is doing? Are you willing to go through what that person went through to get there? Are you willing to go the extra mile? Are you willing to make the tough decision? Do you have the drive, passion, commitment, and desire to really be successful? Do you have the Courage to act!!!
When you look around AIL, you see leaders in every area who had to overcome many obstacles and persevere through many trials to achieve what they did. Almost every instance of leadership that has pushed us along toward progress has involved making tough decisions. From those who lead successful agencies to those in the field, and everyone in between. The successful people have one common trait, the ability to show courage in the face of obstacles and to make tough decisions. They have the ability and desire to do what others won’t.
Think about some of the obstacles that we face:
The courage to expand. When you get to the point where things are comfortable, it’s easy to decide to just settle in. Relax. Enjoy yourself. You can be afraid of what happens if you take one more risk to go for the big gain. What happens if it doesn’t work out? Play it safe instead. Leaders face that decision head on. They understand the ramifications, but they overcome their fear and move forward. It takes courage to leave the status quo behind and expand.
The courage to make tough decisions. At least weekly, the average leader will face a really tough decision. Most of the time, they face a decision between an easy but poor choice versus the difficult but good choice. A lot of life is like that. Those who succeed and become strong leaders are those who can reach deep down inside and consistently have the courage to act on the hard but right decision.
The courage to hold people accountable. Sure, there are some people who love holding an underperformer accountable, but most leaders don’t like having to enforce consequences, whether it be demoting someone to a lower contract level or even letting people go. Even if they know the person should go, they feel bad about having to make the decision. They care about how it will affect the person and their family. They wonder how other American Income Life employees will react, particularly if the employee is popular. But this is part of leadership. One of the biggest leadership flaws is to not act on consequences especially when they can be perceived to be negative. To grow as a leader, you will need to show the courage it takes to constantly hold people accountable and tweak your work force and keep it efficient.
The courage to change direction. As we all know the only constant in our business is change. The pace of change in our world is fast and never ending. When faced with the need to change direction, strong leaders make the leap. Weak leaders doubt. They fear change. They sit on their hands and do nothing. Eventually, they go down with the ship. Strong leaders look forward, see where they need to go, make their plans, communicate with their teams and execute.
Know what you want. Courage is about choice. If you are to act courageously, you need to know what the right choice is. Be clear about your dream and vision.
Do your homework. It helps to get the facts because then you can make an informed decision that will put your heart and mind to rest. There will probably be a downside, but if we understand it we can choose alternatives and act decisively.
Act. There is no substitute for action. Do you know what you want? Have you thought of the possibilities? Have you done your homework? Then what are you waiting for? The next step is to take the first step, and act!
The day you begin to stare down your fears and not worry as a leader, and act courageously, your business will change. You will accomplish things you once only dreamed of. You will experience things you thought were only for others. You will realize that your fears were baseless. You will begin to experience true leadership.
You will also change the lives of others. Simply put, courageous people pull others along with them. Everybody benefits from courage. Everybody in your organization will benefit from your ability to make the difficult but necessary decision. Isn’t that why we do what we do? Isn’t the goal to change lives for the better, give people hope, opportunity, and the chance to be successful.
American Income Life needs great leaders now more than ever. We need courageous leaders who will see into the future and set the agenda for others to get there. This month, make it your goal to reach deep down within yourself and act with courage. Those who follow you will be glad you did!