Consider the role courageous leaders play in our society—from the firefighter who runs into a burning building to the feminist who challenges conventional thinking to the athlete who pushes physical boundaries. We are inspired by them, we learn from them, and we are protected by them. Now, imagine a world without them.

During the Revolutionary War, two sailors named Samuel Shaw and Richard Marven witnessed their leader, the commander of the Continental Navy, participating in the torture of captured British sailors. The sailors knew what they were up against with Commodore Esek Hopkins. He came from a powerful family and was in a position of power in a newly formed government. It was risky to say or do anything to stop Hopkins, but both Shaw and Marven believed that it was their duty to report their superior’s misconduct. In 1777, their worst fears were realized when they were arrested after Hopkins retaliated by filing a libel suit against them. However, later that same month, Congress enacted the first whistle-blower act and not only released the two men but also agreed to pay their attorneys’ fees.1

Imagine a world without Shaw and Marven.

Fast-forward to more than a century later when an outbreak of the Ebola virus in western Africa killed more than 11,000 people and became the most deadly and feared virus on the planet. The doctors, nurses, and caregivers working with the Ebola virus became our saviors. While many medical staff, understandably, resigned on ...

Get The Courageous Leader now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.