Author: Mark S. Kennedy MA, Human Resources Consultant, Poudre Valley Health Systems

The theme of CHAHRM’s Annual Conference held in Breckenridge, Colorado on June 6-8, 2012 was “Being Courageous in HR”.  The keynote speaker for the Conference, Sandra Ford Walston, The Courage Expert, is an internationally recognized speaker on courageous leadership. Sandra opened the conference with an engaging presentation entitled, “Courageous Leadership—the Ethical Behaviors”.  In her presentation Ms. Walston addressed the following:

What is Courageous Leadership?

• Courageous leadership is confronting an uncomfortable truth/issue such as admitting you made a bad hire.
• Courageous leadership is not being afraid to take negative action when necessary.
• Courageous leadership is seeing you as a leader, no matter what your role or position.
• Courageous leadership is releasing the attachment to an outcome, knowing you can handle whatever comes next.

Recognize When You Have Lost Your Courage

•  Notice how long you stay stuck on the step of the ladder and observe your justifications (old scripts).
•  How often do you sell your soul, such as staying on a job too long?
•  What obstacles keep you stuck such as apathy, intimidation or manipulation?
•  When do you swallow your voice? Swallowing your voice allows elements of deceit to penetrate your spirit.

Barriers to Courageous Leadership in an Organization

•  New ideas are overlooked (reactive)
•  Wrong person in wrong job
•  Leadership by control
•  Stagnant business model (“band aide syndrome”)
•  Breakdowns are covered up (stakes are too high)

Ways to Become More Courageous

•  Start using the word! Say, “Yes!”
•  Stop for 3 minutes before a meeting to reflect – it gets you out of “automatic”.
•  Be honest about where you’re stuck
•  At your next meeting or in a personal relationship, have a “courageous conversation” (put the elephant in the room).
Go back to work and ask: “What would we/I do differently if we/I had unlimited courage?”
•  Become a model of courage—demonstrate your courage and use the word.
•  Take time to celebrate those small step accomplishments

Ms. Walston is the author of three books, Courage The Heart and Spirit of Every Woman, FACE IT! 12 Courageous Actions that Bring Success at Work and Beyond and The Courage Difference at Work: A Unique Success Guide for Women.


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