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Posted by on Jan 24, 2014 in BOLD, Business, Culture, Featured, Leadership | 2 comments

BOLD: Bold Leadership is Not What You Think

When you think of bold leadership, what comes to mind?

If you’re like most people, the idea of bold leadership conjures up images of big, charismatic, larger than life personalities. Most of us think of bold leaders as being driven, visionary, and having a take-no-prisoners approach to accomplishing their goals. In the world of sports we think of bold players being the ones who want the ball when the game is on the line. They want to take the last second shot that will win or lose the game. In business, it’s the leaders who are willing to make the multi-million dollar decisions that will propel their organizations forward or put people out of jobs.

If bold leadership is limited to the popular definition I just described, then you and I don’t have much of a chance to be bold, do we? I mean, face it, most of us won’t ever be in those types of situations. We’re just average Joes trying to make a living, doing our jobs the best we can, and if we’re lucky, making a small, positive difference in the world in the process. Bold leadership is for the chosen few, right? Wrong!

Bold leadership is not what you think. BOLD leadership is:

Building trust

Trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship and it’s absolutely critical for successful leadership. Leadership without trust results in fear, withdrawal, compliance, and risk aversion. Leading with trust creates an environment of safety and freedom that result in collaboration, creativity, risk-taking, and innovation. The most successful leaders are trust builders. There’s no two ways about it.

Trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship and it’s absolutely critical for successful leadership.

Others focused

Bold leadership is not about you, it’s about the people you lead. Do you put their interests ahead of your own? Are you striving to help them succeed or are they just pawns in your grand scheme to achieve corporate domination? Bold leaders take the strengths of their team members and blend them together in such a way that the team as a whole is stronger than any one individual. You can’t do that if you’re only focused on yourself.

Leading with humility

Popular culture says humility equates to weaknesses, the polar opposite of being bold. That’s a bunch of malarkey! Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking about yourself less. Humility is a quiet confidence in your skills and abilities that allows you to subvert your own ego for the greater good of the team, department, or organization. Arrogant leaders are the ones willing to pursue their own agendas at the expense of everyone else, whereas humble leaders consider the needs of all the stakeholders, recognize the stakes at hand, and make reasoned decisions for the welfare of the group.

Humility is a quiet confidence in your skills and abilities that allows you to subvert your own ego for the greater good of the team, department, or organization.

Daring to be vulnerable

Bold leaders aren’t afraid to let down their guard a bit and be authentic with those they lead. Employees are yearning for leaders to express genuine care and concern, to acknowledge and appreciate them as individuals with hopes, dreams, and fears, and not treat them as mindless drones, valued only for the work they do on the job. Being vulnerable means sharing information about yourself and the organization and taking an interest in the lives of your people. You don’t have to pour out your life story and be BFFs with every employee, but you do need to open up and help your people see the real you.

Bold leadership isn’t reserved for the chosen few, and it certainly isn’t limited to popular culture’s definition of big, brash, loud leadership. Bold leadership is about the everyday behaviors we use to build trust, focusing on the needs of others, leading with confident humility, and vulnerably engaging with our people in authentic and genuine ways.



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Image credit: harishmarnad / 123RF Stock Photo

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Randy Conley

Randy Conley is the Director of Client Services and Trust Practice Leader at The Ken Blanchard Companies where he has partnered with some of the company’s largest clients such as Amgen, American Express, Pfizer, and the San Diego Padres to deliver transformative leadership and organizational development solutions. He authors the Leading with Trust blog, speaks and trains on the subjects of trust and leadership, is an adjunct faculty member of Grand Canyon University, and was named by Trust Across America as a Top 100 Thought Leader in trustworthy business behavior for 2012. Randy holds a Masters Degree in Executive Leadership from the University of San Diego. You can follow him on Twitter @RandyConley.

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  • Spark the Action

    Randy, I like the acronym and I agree – I think too often we underestimate the impact that we can have as individuals on our team, community or family. Being bold is much more about the willingness to step out into unknown areas because our vision takes us in that direction.
    Thank you for your thoughts,

    • Randy Conley

      Hi Carl. Thank you for your comments. BOLD leadership comes in many shapes and sizes and it’s not always what we think it is, but it always involves working for the betterment of others.


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