April 13, 2009

Yesterday I closed my post on excellence with the question “Are you encouraging or discouraging excellence?” Said another way, are we helping those we work with to have the courage they need to pursue excellence, or are we thwarting that courage?

In his book The Courageous Follower: Standing Up to and for Our Leaders, Ira Chaleff defines courage as “the ability to step forward through fear.” He goes on to say:

• Courage means accepting responsibility
• Courage often means nonconformity
• Courage means pushing beyond the comfort zone
• Courage means asking for what you want and saying what you think
• Courage means fighting for what you believe

Man, I love this.

Through our words and our actions, let’s not warn others that they better “sit down and shut up” when they want to make suggestions on how to improve inferior or broken systems at work. Let’s help others step forward through the fear of striving for excellence.

Whether leading or following, let’s strive to encourage, not discourage, those around us.

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  1. Carl Sorrell says:

    These are excellent points and help to further propblem solving and forward progress. I think it also is true that without trust there is little chance of courage. If followers don’t trust leaders, they will not be courageous; and if leaders don’t trust followers they will not allow courage in their followers.

    Does trust follow courage or vice-versa. Or do they grow simultaneously?

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Carl! Great point and question about trust and courage. I think trust requires courage, but even when trust is not present, we still have to have the courage to do the right thing. Thanks! Bret