student-run marketing firm at Stephens College, Columbia, MO


Courage in the Workplace


Courage. We all want to have courage, but do we really have it. Is it something we practice daily? Courageous leaders are in high demand but in short supply these days. According to a 2011/2012 Kenexa report, workplace stress is at the highest levels in four years, driven in large part by fear. In these situatio
ns, people tend to keep their heads down and their mouths shut to survive. This not only applies to the rank and file, but to management as well.

Bold, confident, courageous leadership is needed now more than ever. Of course, it takes guts to step forward, take risks, and lead during downturns. And it’s not easy, whether it’s having that uncomfortable conversation, not always having the answers or planning to move forward with a project. It can be scary but this is the behavior that gains trust and sets an example for others.

Want to be a courageous leader? Consider modeling these 10 traits of courageous leaders:

1. Confront reality head-on. There is no need to sugar-coat information. At the end of the day, it doesn’t help anyone or solve any problems. Courageous leaders know the current state of their team to lead them to a better place.

2. Seek feedback and listen. Although feedback isn’t always easy to hear, it can reveal our blind spots that impact the way we interact with others.

3. Say what needs to be said. Conversations can be awkward and uncomfortable especially in conflict but they are real conversations. These conversations help cut through the smoke and move forward through issues.

4. Encourage push-back. We don’t always have the right answers but encouraging constructive and healthy debate can reveal a better answer with diverse opinions.

5. Take action on performance issues. Confronting people is hard but if we take that step for underperforming employees, it will help you, your team and your organization in the long-run.

6. Communicate openly and frequently. Communication is key in every relationship. Keeping communication open allows for more straight-talk and the sharing of information.

7. Lead change. Change can be scary to many people but if you envision a better way, solution or product, allow people to engage in the change process.

8. Make decisions and move forward. Tough decisions will always have to be made and at times we feel like we can’t commit to a decision which prevents us from moving forward. Make the decision and move forward to avoid being stuck in the same place.

9. Give credit to others. Remember that a good leader takes more than their fair share of the blame and less than their fair share of the credit.

10. Hold people (and yourself) accountable. Model the behavior you expect from others and don’t be afraid to call people out when they are not following through with commitments.


Graphic Created By Lyubov Sheremeta

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