The Perfect Leader Pt 7 – Courage

2018-11-16T11:05:33-08:00 November 9th, 2018|Tags: , , , |

Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our former Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.

This series of posts flows from two premises and one conclusion: (1) people follow leaders; (2) Jesus is The Perfect Leader; and therefore (3) everyone (including marketplace leaders) should consider following Jesus.


“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” ~Winston Churchill

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” ~C. S. Lewis

According to Oxford Dictionaries, courage is “the ability to do something that frightens one.” Like C. S. Lewis, many have written about the virtue of courage and Churchill’s leadership of Britain during World War II is one of many excellent examples. In an article published in Forbes Magazine, Bill George of the Harvard Business School states that “the defining characteristic of the best [CEOs] is courage to make bold moves that transform their businesses.”

Courage is inevitably necessary when leading organizations, particularly when undertaking transformative change. The greatest leaders are not only personally courageous but also able to impart courage to those they lead. The impartation of courage requires clear delegation of authority supported by confidence in the ability of the subordinate to exercise that authority wisely.

Reflecting on my own career, I can clearly see this phenomenon at work. For example, when I was a young analyst in an investment department, my boss demonstrated courage by risking his and the company’s reputation on me. Shortly after hiring me, he delegated me the authority (within prescribed limits) to solely represent the company in many meetings with CFOs and CEOs usually several years my senior. Over the years, my various bosses have encouraged me with words of confidence in my ability to achieve the organization’s goals in a manner that did credit to them.

No one better exemplifies the ability to impart courage than Jesus. He delegated full authority to his followers to represent him in the world. Following his resurrection and after claiming absolute authority, Jesus commissioned his followers to represent him in the world by making new followers among those who did not know him. Moreover, on a previous occasion, he encouraged them to believe that they would do even greater works than he had accomplished during his earthly ministry.

How’s that for risk taking? Unlike the aforementioned new employer who didn’t know me, Jesus knows everything about me including my every thought! Notwithstanding, Jesus has taken this risk in the full knowledge of my weaknesses. And, of course, a quick review of my own conduct confirms to me that I’m not always a credit to Jesus’ reputation. The wonderful news is that he has not left us as orphans but instead has sent his Holy Spirit to indwell and empower those of us who believe in him. We’re not flying solo!

His impartation of courage proved out then and continues to do so today. Many of his followers died for their refusal to deny Jesus. Sadly, this remains the case in 2018 as believers around the world are being persecuted, sometimes killed, for their refusal to deny Jesus.

If you are a follower of Jesus, are you courageously using the authority Jesus delegated to you?

Next week, we will examine the exercise of wisdom, another key characteristic of great leaders.

Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.