A friend recently shared this image with me. I think I was drawn to it not only because I am a dog person. In fact, I am a Shepard dog person. The message in this image, brought to the surface my thoughts surrounding courage when it comes to leading a team and what it takes as a leader to make difficult decisions, implement change and disrupt the status quo.

Dog standing alone in forest

Simply put, one must be willing to stand up for what they believe in, especially when it comes to implementing change or a new idea, regardless of its popularity. One must be confident enough and trust themselves to take risk, even when filled with self-doubt or concerns over what others may think. Innovation almost never first comes through consensus. It requires someone standing up and asking “what if” or stating “we need to do this.”

Standing alone can be fear producing, I know. I have been there. But it comes back to allowing yourself to be vulnerable. At times you may wonder “what if I am wrong?”, “what will people think about this idea?”, “what if this fails?”. But what I always try to remind myself is that great leaders do not deserve the name unless they are willing to stand alone. You need to be willing to go on a ledge if you want to truly drive innovation.

However standing alone, should never be confused with flying solo. Of course, you have to trust your instincts and be the one to make the call when the time comes. However, if you have solid relationships with your team, you can stand alone without being alone. Encourage a culture of taking chances, being nimble, and at the very least, let your team understand your process. Do this, and they are more likely to support you moving forward. This is crucial because even if you stand alone at first, it is the TEAM who accomplishes the end goal.

At the end of the day, doing something extraordinary for your organization, means have the courage to take risks and stand up. Leading in an extraordinary way, means inspiring others to share in your journey.

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