Becoming a Great Leader Through Self-Reliance

by Jan Rutherford for Soundview’s ” 2 Minute Mentor”

Self-reliance is an important trait to succeed as an individual, both in life and in business. How often, though, do you hear it in reference to being a great leader? During a recent appearance on Soundview Live, leadership development expert Jan Rutherford discussed points from his book, The Littlest Green Beret: On Self-Reliant Leadership, that touch on two important qualities that are always present in self-reliant leaders: courage and vigilance.

When I look at self, what we know today is that none of us have enough time, resources, money, capital. That is absolutely the thing we’re in short of supply of and that’s nothing new. There’s always going to be scarcity. I started looking at the people that were the most resourceful and the most resilient and I found that they really had this polarity. They have a balance of courage and vigilance. I say the word courage and vigilance, I want you to think about how would you describe those from a poor competency perspective in your organization? How would you interview for these traits? How would you reinforce these traits in a performance review? Are they appropriate words, courage and vigilance?

Courage is being audacious and acting in the face of fear but applied at the wrong time can be seen as insensitive, uninformed, and taking unnecessary risk. Vigilance can be sustained concentration but it can also be analysis-paralysis, being so careful not to be bold when required. The sweet spot really between courage and vigilance is where adversity is embraced, uncertainty is expected, creativity is yield, passions are pursued, and heroes emerge.

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