A leader possessing all the leadership qualities known to mankind, but except courage and braveness is as good as having no single leadership quality. They have synonymous words like; courage, fearlessness, valor, and boldness but portray almost the same meaning; they are known as the basic qualities of a successful personality including leadership. Courage and fearlessness are the signs of manliness and in many tasks these qualities serve as a bridge to success. To be honest, no matter the competency, proficiency and skills possess by a leader, with the absence of courage and fearlessness; there are no significant success, progress or advancement that can be attain without courage and gallantry. All social and intellectual revolutionaries depend on these qualities.
South Africa would have still been under inhuman apartheid regime without the courageous and fearless disposition of late Nelson Mandela. Fearful and timid people hide themselves in corners like birds retreat in cold season. They are reluctant to undertake any task for fear of being tag an opponent’s. Such people neither become reputable nor can they bring any change in life. At the most they can remain in their original condition. But bold and courageous people first realise the importance of their aim, ponder over every side of the matter, weigh probable profit or loss, prepare a programme and then begin their job without caring for anything.
There are difference between haughtiness and madness; courage and boldness. Careless people jump in without pondering over related matters or consequences, courageous people would have taken valuable time to consult and ponder about it before taking a stand. True leaders are not afraid to take risks or make mistakes. True leaders make mistakes born from risk. Using the word of Lolly Daskal, in her article titled: “Courage Is the Key to Fearless Leadership”. The reverend author use the following illustration to explain who a fearless leader is.
Wu Feng was a Manchurian diplomat in the 1700s who was posted with an aboriginal tribe in the outskirts of Taiwan. He befriended the aboriginal chief, whose tribe beheaded one of its members every year as a form of sacrifice. Each year Wu Feng pleaded, with all his compassion and reverence for life, for the chief to put to an end to this custom. The chief would listen respectfully, then summon the chosen tribe member and without hesitation behead him.
Finally, after living with the tribe for 25 years, Wu Feng once more pleaded with the chief to stop the killing. But this time, when the tribe member was called forth, Wu Feng took his place and said, “If you will kill this time, it will be me”.
The chief stared long into his old friend’s eyes. He could not kill him. And from that day, the practice of beheading stopped.
Although it should be noted that there are many controversies as to the different between courage and fearlessness. I will pick the word of someone that captures my mind by Rodrigo Chambers. He opines that “courage is overcoming fear. Fearless is not having fear. But a person can be relatively fearless without being insane, ignorant or stupid, as some people suggest. Fear often goes away by confronting it. By constantly confronting fear it subsides and a person can become more or less fearless through countless acts of courage. Is the fearless person not admirable then?
I have decided not to treat courage as leadership virtue separately from fearlessness, since the above illustration combine both courage and fearless to attain the same objectives. There are many kinds of leaders and all kinds of leadership, but the leaders we remember the most; the ones who remain unforgettable, are those who lead with courage. The courageous voice out when no one dares. The courageous opposes when no one cares. The courageous put their lives in jeopardy when no one else dares. Being deeply fearless gives us strength, while being deeply courageous gives us character. (Lolly Daskal).
EXAMPLE OF COURAGEOUS LEADER
I will take examples from the work of Al-Islam.org. Let us look at the fearlessness and uncommon courage of Martin Luther in bringing about religious reform. There was a time Christian clergy were in perpetual fear and uneasiness, the masses were feeling suffocated. It was suicidal for anyone to dared to utter a single word of complain against the Pope and the clergy around him. It was at that time in 1510 AD Martin Luther went to Rome and saw for himself that those occupying high ranks in the church were careless in their duties regarding religion. So his determination to reform the religion doubled. Finally he put up a notification at the gate of the highest church informing the people that he had some points, which he wanted to discuss with knowledgeable persons.
Luther raised serious objections against the ways and manners of the religious leaders. He said that after becoming respectable in the eyes of the masses the priests claimed to get people’s sins pardoned. Martin said this gesture of the priests was a kind of misappropriation. The clergy became very angry at this criticism. They warned Martin to refrain from his undesirable propaganda. But he took no notice of their threats and continued voice his criticism in public meetings.
The Vatican was then compelled to declare that Martin had become unbeliever. Martin burnt the Pope’s edict in public and took shelter with Frederick the third. Yet he continued his mission and at last, as a result of his courage he rested only after separating some wrong things of Christianity from religion and founded the Protestant order.
Another vivid example where courage and fearlessness were demonstrated is the victory over Spain, Moosa bin Nasir, who was the commander of the Muslim arm in Africa, determined to capture Europe. He sent his slave Tariq Bin Ziyad with a small group of people to Spain for spying.
When Tariq arrived in Spain and observed the enemy from every angle he understood that they were bent upon attacking the Muslims. Tariq thought that if he sends a report to his chief and awaits his response the enemy might become alert. So he ordered his men to burn down the ships in which they had reached the coast of Spain. When the ships began to burn, some took exception to that act and said, “You have made us shelter less by burning our ships. Now we cannot return to our homes.”
Tariq replied, “The Muslim is not like a bird, which has a particular nest.”
Then he got up, stood in the valley which today is known by the name of Gibraltar. Before his eyes the sea was roaring loudly. He delivered such a forceful speech that the audience could hear only his words even in the midst of the lashing of the ocean waves. The sea had, perhaps, become silent.
Tariq said, “Brother! The roaring sea is behind you and the army of the enemy in front of you. Your enemy has heaps of foodstuffs and arms whereas you have only that which you can snatch from them with the strength of your hands. You do not have any armor except the swords hanging on your waists.”
This forceful speech inspired much courage in the Muslim warriors. Their blood began to boil with extreme passion and they forced the enemy to surrender in a very short time as a result of their fearless fighting. Spain was conquered in this way.
Many events in the Holy Bible narrated the important of courage and fearlessness which eventually give God’s people the victory over their oppressors. In Numbers 13:1- end; Joshua and Caleb shows personal bravery in advising that the Israelite should go at once to possess the Promised Land, not minding the intimidating size of the Canaanite. In Daniel Chapter 3; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego went on to display uncommon bravery in the face of a ruthless king, “King Nebuchadnezzar”, they defied the order and refused to bow before the King image even if their God is unable to save them from destruction.
The great Madiba was resolute even at the risk of being tag a terrorist for having the guts to rejects the oppressive and dehumanising apartheid government. “He was at the forefront of the radical change in the now ruling party; ANC in the 1940s. He nurtured, propagate and advance the long walk to freedom ever experience in human history. For angonising 27 years, the South African people spoke about him in whispered tones, due to fear inspired by the Dutch oppressor, secretly supported by the West, but the powerful name of Nelson Mandela lived on. He continued to inspire his people every single day inside the prison walls.
If you doubt the importance of courage and fearlessness in leadership, you will understand the reason behind a sovereign nation’s President, despite his control over all the security forces; can only openly confessed the infiltration of terrorists in his government, but chose to do nothing. Our next series will discuss who exactly is a genuine leader. Your opinion and feedback is appreciated on the comment column. Do you like the piece? It’s always good to share.