Courage can come in many forms and inspire your community to enact positive change
by Arndt Schottelius
When you think about courage, you might envision a scenario where someone has the spirit to face difficulties or extraordinary challenges without fear. But when I think about courage, cancer patients and their families are the first to come to my mind. As a leader, I’ve recognized over the years how having courage comes in many forms; no matter how extreme the situation, it can be inspiring. Therefore, since joining Affimed in April, I have been committed to making courage an essential part of our company culture.
It’s important to foster an environment where we can share and discuss both the good and the bad. It takes courage to challenge popular opinion and to deliver bad news. If you’re acting in the best interest of the business, these will be productive conversations. This is the environment I encourage for myself and my teams. It’s an environment where people can learn, grow, and thrive.
Courage can lead to curiosity and a commitment to learning. I’m naturally very curious and have been interested in how biology works for as long as I can remember. It’s no wonder I pursued a career in science, which depends on the understanding of biology and its intersection with medicine. By constantly uncovering and fully understanding these concepts, we can work to make wonderful discoveries. We can develop medicines that go beyond treatment—and make the cure or prevention of life-limiting conditions a reality. I have these high expectations for myself and for my team, to work toward these lofty goals for the benefit of patients. By having courage along the way, speaking up when you have a different point of view, and challenging the status quo, you can create a safe and trusted environment for teams to do their best work.
Courage also has a direct impact on responsibility and accountability. The point is to be quick and nimble—and to take prudent risks at the right moments to yield results. I want to depend on my team to provide that level of expertise, take accountability for those decisions, and judge the appropriate level of risk. Without risk, there cannot be growth or innovation.
Above all, I encourage authenticity, which is the root of courage. In leadership, authenticity means focusing less on impressing others and more on connecting with them. For instance, many leaders list their qualifications and highlight their credentials, assuming this is what people care about and what will capture their attention. Expertise matters, but ultimately, people listen to those they can relate to.
To practice authenticity, starts peaking from your own experiences. You know more than you think you do. Just believe people will connect to that voice and know that no one can compete with you when you’re being true to yourself, which is ultimately the greatest act of courage. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to share your passion and your curiosity with others. Take ownership of your expertise and have the courage to share it. This is the only way to spark innovation and make a genuine impact.