Courage: What it is and isn’t

Courage is an important leadership quality, especially right now. My last blog – and webcast last week – on courage in a leadership team generated lots of interest.

How does courage between peers on a senior leadership team play out? And what does it look like when we lack interpersonal courage?

Here are some examples I have seen in leadership teams I have worked with.

 

Acting from fear & self-protection

Acting from courage

1

Tolerating (or ignoring) poor peer behaviour

Respectfully calling poor behaviour, with an underlying positive intention to help your colleague (and your team) be better.

2

Keeping ideas to yourself in case others think they (or you) are stupid

Putting ideas into the conversation, knowing that not everyone will embrace them.

3

Going with the prevailing view because everyone else seems to endorse it

Articulating why and how you disagree with the majority view

4

Hiding your needs and covering up your fears

Being willing to be vulnerable and asking for help.

5

Advocating strongly for your position and holding the line regardless

Holding a strong point of view while being willing to listen to others, and change your mind

6

Telling as a primary communication style

Asking as a primary communication style

7

Allowing the CEO/Chair’s voice to prevail, despite there being greater wisdom in the room on this issue

Offering frank advice in a political environment, and/or calling on peers with alternative opinions

8

Maintaining an ‘unspoken pact’ that certain issues are taboo

Surfacing what others are thinking and not willing to say, so the team can work through the issue and grow

9

Listening in a superficial way, making conversations transactional

Listening on a deeper level to connect, allowing the potential for conversations to be transformational

The word ‘courage’ has origins in French and Latin for ‘heart’. An English definition of courage – now obsolete – is ‘the heart as the source of emotion’.

If courage was more strongly connected to your heart and emotions, how would you work with your leadership team peers? Where could you bring more courage into your leadership today?

Go Fearlessly

 

PS I am very interested in examples of interpersonal courage (or a lack of it) from your leadership team, so please do get in touch.