THE BLOG
08/05/2014 04:22 pm ET Updated Oct 05, 2014

What Makes Leaders So Fearless?

We all are aware of people in our lives who we would consider leaders. Leaders tend to be people who are first to raise their hand, first to volunteer, first to make decisions and first to reach for solutions. But what makes for a great leader? And why do great leaders always seem so fearless?

One of the primary tools that leaders learn to use well is contingency -- a backup plan of action that can ensure that if something goes bad (and it usually does to some extent) that there is an immediate fix available to help prevent an effort from stalling or stopping altogether. Sometimes, our contingencies work wonders, saving our butts from being chewed out by the boss if something goes awry. But backup plans can also fail us, leaving us wondering what to do next, with our hands in the air.

Great leaders take contingency to a new, breath-taking level. Leaders walk among us with a veritable toolbelt of contingencies, wielding enough managerial firepower to quell even the most serious problems. They appear to others as calm, collected, and bulletproof, even in the face of fire and smoke.

Great leaders become fearless when they learn to use contingencies not only as a quick fix, but as a battering ram to drive headfirst through a challenge, speeding up completion times by foreseeing all of the potential issues and having contingencies to cover those problems en-route.

A good football running back thinks ahead, memorizes his route, and considers all of the possible secondary routes he can take, should a missed tackle or really fast defensive back get in the way. Being able to enact one of those secondary routes at a moments notice means the difference between a touchdown and a one-yard gain. Great leaders are the business equivalent of a great running back. They carry the ball forward, head first, and understand all the angles required to get to the goal line, including a mental list of contingencies to address unexpected obstacles. To us, they make it look so easy, yet they are bobbing and weaving, pushing and shoving the whole way.

As a skilled worker, we are by default, leaders -- self leaders. Have you learned how to use contingency to make your work day go smoother? Do you have tricks, backup plans and tools that you've learned over the years that make work a piece of cake? If so, then you have all that you need to take on a leadership role, starting from yourself as your own company-of-one, and expanding outwards to those around you.

Being fearless has little to do about running head-first into a brick wall; it is all about the finesse that you use to get through seemingly tough problems without even breaking a sweat -- much like a great leader does. This is why great leaders are fearless -- they merely "look" fearless as they implement backup plans to keep the ship moving forward through fields of icebergs.

So saddle up, collect your contingency tools and tricks, and buckle up... you're ready to show others how you can be "fearless"...