7 Contagious Attributes of Highly Courageous Leaders

Contagious attributes of courageous leaders do not happen by accident. To effectively influence others, the person “in charge” needs to be intentional on two fronts: achieving goals AND breathing life into people that make the end result possible.

I refer to these attributes as contagious, because anyone following a leader that practices these values will regenerate them within the organization. Moreover, the leader who applies the principles outlined below is courageous because this is a narrow path and it’s hard to traverse.

You will notice that I’ve chosen terms beginning with the letter “c.” While my aspiration is to be creative, more importantly, I want these words to be memorable.


Demonstrate competence – Knowing the difference between a good job and poor performance separates theorists from practitioners. Moreover, the incompetent leader cannot reasonably articulate how and why certain tasks are accomplished. The person unable to explain these issues will never withstand political pressure since he or she has no reserves to fall back on.


Gain confidence – Confidence of thought is gained by understanding how basic tasks fit into the “big picture.” Once pure confidence is gained it can be instilled in others through affirmation.

Oftentimes chiefs and department managers tell line officers they need to “understand the big picture,” while cops in the trenches are so focused on “the weeds” they discard the greater purpose. If either side discounts the perspective of the other, it’s shortsighted arrogance—a false pretense for configurative confidence.


Provide counsel – Offer counselling where appropriate so clear thinking and direction results in wise decisions being made. Be available to guidance from other people who might know more than you. Any person, regardless of rank, who thinks they do not need the advice from others is duped by their own pomposity.


Show compassion – If we remember that we are leading people, not just police work, we’ll be well ahead of the game.

In the rough and tumble world of law enforcement, this attribute is frequently missing from hardened professionals who’ve encased their exterior disposition in alloyed steal. However, compassion is a sign of humanity, not weakness.


Insist on correction – The boss who approves errors and shortcuts for the sake of convenience, or to make a friend, will be mocked in the end. There is no proper way to do something incorrectly. This practice will be self-destructive for the people involved and possibly the organization. It is behavior that leads to “chinks in the armor” and the reason why things “fall through the cracks.”


Offer a celebration – Institute a workplace culture of “high-fives” and lunches to honor achievements. Moreover, catch someone doing something right, and let EVERYONE know about it. Celebrating good work is only limited by your own creativity. For many people, recognition of a job well done is comparable to any benefit they might otherwise receive.


Issue a challenge – You generally do not need to issue a challenge to the ten percenters—people who will excel regardless of circumstances. They challenge themselves. Yet it’s human nature for most people to do just enough to get by. Therefore, issue a challenge that is realistic, but will raise the bar for those who desire to provide the minimum effort.

If you believe people are underachieving in your office, perhaps it’s because the expectations are low?


Be consistent – We’ve all had a boss who was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This kind of personality can make people run for cover until they determine which of the two has arrived for work. Moreover, the boss whose disposition is all over the map will also handle a problem like it’s a live grenade. Before you know it there is collateral damage everywhere. People want to know whom they are working for, so find your lane and do your best to stay there.

Furthermore, people want to be assured they are treated fairly. It’s human nature to have “favorites,” but the effective leader will remove personalities when handling preferences and problems.

Jim McNeff, editor-in-chief, Law Enforcement Today

Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment