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Courage and Competence

We are living and working in extraordinary times.

It’s safe to say that business leaders at all levels and across all industries have been tested – and will continue to be tested – unlike any other time in their careers. Navigating through the turbulence created by the Coronavirus pandemic requires two important leadership traits: competence and courage.

Leaders need competence, what we consider business acumen, to successfully respond to the seismic disruptions presented by the pandemic. Consider the arc we have experienced since mid-March. Travel restrictions and social distancing have shut down myriad businesses. In the beginning, leaders needed to understand and anticipate how the shut-down would impact their businesses to forecast changes in customer demand and revenue. As the pandemic has lingered on, companies, big and small, have had to adjust their cost structures and payment terms to weather the cash crunch inflicted on them. For many organizations, leaders needed to know the financial resources available to them – think PPP loans – and the implications of using them. The test for leaders during this period is survival.

More recently, leaders have needed to shift their attention to recovery and growth.

  • How should they adapt their business models to thrive?
  • Does the new-normal offer opportunities for new products, services and delivery systems?
  • Will the changes we’re all experiencing become permanent?

Answering these questions requires competence; it requires an intimate understanding of one’s industry, how customer needs have shifted, and how competitors have responded. It requires leaders to make sound and smart decisions informed by their experience and expertise.

And this remarkable year requires courage. Company employees look to their leaders for direction, answers and assurances. The most effective leaders are summoning their courage to share the unvarnished truth about the situation. Transparency has been demonstrated by leaders who share what they know and what they do not.

Leaders are having to make very difficult decisions every day. 

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Behind every one of these decisions is a person: an employee with unique circumstances and obligations. Leaders have had to deliver gut-wrenching news to employees with years and years of tenure as well as those early in their careers.

The best leaders deliver difficult news directly, but with deep empathy. And these same leaders balance hard news with hope and optimism for the future, which requires equal measures of courage when the future is uncertain.


In today’s difficult and uncertain business environment, leaders need to employ competence and courage. Competence is required by leaders to make the right decisions at the right times for their companies. Courage is needed to put plans in motion that carry great risks for organizations and consequences for employees.

Insight Experience designs and develops simulation-based learning experiences that allow business leaders to learn and practice the business acumen and interpersonal skills that develop their competence and courage. Our simulation-based approach provides a risk-free platform to apply, practice and refine the traits of competence and courage.