Courage is the frontier of leadership

We need more courage in organizations today. More courage to speak the truth, more courage to call out an issue, more courage to praise the tough choice. More courage to be better people while we work.
Here’s some ideas for ways to do it…
1. Organizationally, don’t hide the elephants. Have you ever been in a room of high level execs and nobody actually mentions the one issue that’s on everyone’s mind? In a recent situation, I was working with a Fortune 500 firm, and they were having to face downsizing if they were going to remain competitive. The CEO left it to the organizational leaders to define where the cuts could / should come from. When the Senior VPs and Directors got together, they managed to talk about everything BUT the headcount reductions.

It was only after 2 days of the dance, when someone (me) asked the question: ” What will it take for us to address the organizational downsizing?” It was a small move — not asking for the decision but asking for the process to solve it. And, at least, it allowed engagement.

The more you try and hide the elephant, the larger it seems to get. Be the one to point it out and the whole organization gains. It’s courage with the highest level of service.
2. Personally, forgive others. Nobody is perfect. Just look at any one of us and a thousand flaws can be found. It’s part of humanity. We make mistakes in our organizational life as we do in our overall life. It happens. Forgive one another our faults. It takes courage to look past somebody’s imperfections to find their gifts, to see what is good and able. If you have the courage to see past the obvious flaws, you have the ability to help that person shine.
3. Individually, take risks to initiate change. Being the one to start a dialogue shows risk to create change, generating a new approach that result in being shot down, and certainly listening with openness takes a vulnerability to be open to change. It takes great courage to be the kind of person who takes risks. But then sitting back and waiting for someone else to take it on probably results in more of the same. Be the one with courage to grow, to be open, to drive change.
In consulting, I can do this much easier than when I worked inside Fortune 500. And I hope that I can enable people inside to find their own voice and courage to be leaders.

0 Responses:

  1. Marsha. May 5, 2006 at 8:17 am  |  

    Put earrings on it, a cute dress and great shoes – it’s still an elephant. Finding within ourselves the ability to be brave, stand fast and look the elephant right in the eye is the only thing I’ve found that works to deflate the problem and deal with it.


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