A leader must have courage; a leader must act in a courageous manner and so on.
While this is true, it is only part of the story about courage and the workplace. As we shall see, the virtue of courage must run throughout an organization or company – from bottom to top – in order for it to function at the highest level.
Courage comes from the Old French corage, meaning “heart and spirit.” In other words, courage is an innate, internal quality that resides within the core of your being.Courage is further defined as: “The quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.” Again, we see the word spirit.
Courage is foundational
Courage is associated with such words as fearlessness, grit and power. It is experiencing fear, yet pushing through it to achieve your desired result. Some say courage is the thing that underlies every other human quality. Without it, we cannot rightly be honest, dependable, generous or trustworthy. Courage is the foundation upon which all other virtues are built.
Courage and fear of reprisal
Why is so little courage seen in so many companies these days? In my estimation, it is because the leaders of those companies have fostered a culture where dissenting voices are discouraged and opinions that threaten the status quo are thoroughly silenced. With this climate of possible retaliation before them, team members are fearful of speaking up, sharing their thoughts and voicing their values. Fear of being the first one out the door at the next downsizing has stopped many ideas dead in their tracks in the workplace.
The first step in harnessing your courage is to develop a vision that represents your authentic self and goals, and aligning that vision with the business and its goals. This is true for the executive, manager and employee in the workplace. Development of a vision that all members of the team can buy into depends on the openness of a company or organization. An open-minded company allows for discussion, sharing, brainstorming and even dissenting views. An open leader sees the value of the knowledge and experience of everyone in the room, including managers and employees. The leaders’ openness allows for others to work from a place of courage. They can step up without fear and lend their thoughts to the discussion. The ability to have that courage becomes transformational, both for the person sharing and the company or organization.
Openness leads to the ability to shape and form a vision. It is a vision wrought in courage which gives it power. That vision, brought about by the courage of the people involved in its development, will be the driving force carrying the company forward into new and exciting areas.
Benefits of courage in the workplace
Some of the benefits derived from demonstrating courage in the workplace include: high morale; commitment to the group mission; ownership; responsibility; momentum; effective; and stronger sense of purpose.
Here’s few questions that all members of your team can ask themselves regarding courage. Use these questions to help you determine what you can do to step up, step out and find your courageous voice.
- What is your vision for the business/group/department?
- How, specifically, can you be more courageous in your role at work?
- What communication skill would help you become more courageous?
- What tangible benefits will arise from your courageous action?