Designing Courageous Leadership

Designing Courage

There is a direct correlation between your success quotient and your courage quotient. Sony Corporation believes customers want choices, so they design many options. Other organizations such as 3M and Disney instill daily “gray shade attributes” to seek and stimulate creative design. Creative people such as artists understand this abyss. They know inspiration hides in the paradox that the world is shades of gray, not black and white.

Harold G. Nelson, Ph.D., focuses on intentional change in an unpredictable world by applying fundamental design competences. “Humans did not discover fire, they designed it,” he explained. Most likely, your workforce will judge your courageous deeds and evaluate them in an assortment of renditions. How does the leadership team or learning officer lasso this abstract essence and design a blissful outcome?

When organizations opt to design a courageous culture they create a document called “The Declaration of Courageous Intention” (DCI). Designing your organization’s courage is the beginning of the end result. Once you start the design, it becomes your companion. As the size of your organization’s courage expands it turns into your sponsor for improvement.

Connecting all levels of employees from the CEO to administrative staff to their unique courage design and then merging those courage qualities with their workforce is elusive. Don’t seek fancy formulas or complex matrixes. Misty intangibles (soft skills) such as trust, courage or integrity come in a variety of sizes. What a breeze if you could pick up a non-toxic courage spray bottle and spritz your reservations away. But, to some degree, everyone is courage-challenged.


Galileo said, “You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself.” During your tenure as an employee, your type of courage learning probably resonates with being the conduit to the company’s success. Perhaps you are great at unfolding a plan.

Leading workforce leaders to conquer their courage requires a practical stretch beyond business mechanics such as budgets, supply chains, human resources, limited resources, Six Sigma, marketing, or milestones, etc. These hard-skill abilities are great if merged with the spiritual moments that tap into the issues that reveal breakdowns in the human condition — the issues most difficult to express or pinpoint. These internal kernels might be an employee’s self-doubt, competitive nature (bordering dysfunctional) or “to the ninth-degree” justifications. Desire for security is often the culprit that clips ones courage.

Where to start the courage clarification process? Hire and support the people with leadership qualities defined by courage. For example, what right action for the right reason will your folks choose? Just as you strive to hire high performers who demonstrate elevated emotional intelligence (EQ), courage attributes are a critical component of the quotient.

Your workforce probably identifies whistle-blowing as a current courage example. Once branded, courageous behaviors can be learned by everyone. There is a direct correlation between your success quotient and your courage quotient.

Continued next week, learn how to distinguish IQ from genius–which does your organization possess?

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