The Power of Being Courageous at Work


By Sandra Ford Walston, The Courage Expert

True courage comes from a place deep within each of us, not from synapses firing based on intellectual prowess, education, titles or credentials. Courage is much more than brains or mental capabilities, it is a discipline. Demonstrating courageous leadership at work and living a courageous life come from an energy springing from an individual’s deepest values, motivation, and attitudes: the authentic self.

What would motivate you to explore where this ancient virtue fits into your workplace today? Why would you want to exhibit the efficiency that goes along with courage? The answer: you will discover that there is an indisputable direct correlation between your “courage quotient” and your “success quotient.” But first it takes knowing the components of courage and then conscientiously applying them. Mastering your courage is not a mechanical process. The challenge you face is for you to be yourself, but with more know-how—a distinction between a superhuman hero and cultivating authenticity.

Regardless of your position or title at work, ask yourself these questions to determine how you demonstrate courage-centering at work:

  • Do my employees or peers perceive me as courageous?
  • Do I feel a sense of joy in my work?
  • What leadership archetype would employees ascribe to me, such as the “boss, caregiver, mentor, perfectionist, sage,” etc.?
  • Do I strive above all else to leave a daily courage legacy that transcends generations?
  • Do my employees or peers see me as genuine and real?
  • Do I feel exalted by my vision?
  • Does my language encourage or discourage?
  • Do my employees or peers take personal responsibility for the experiences they create?
  • Does my leadership style substitute humility for vanity?
  • How stuck am I in my belief system or “positionality”?
  • Do I belittle “touchy-feely” behaviors versus displaying and celebrating gratitude?
  • On a scale of 1-10 (ten being the highest), how enlightened are my leadership skills?
  • Are my employees or peers innately motivated to achieve the desired results?
  • Do I work in a proactive or reactive company?
  • Do I hire people (or does HR) with instinctual courageous leadership behaviors?
  • Can I imagine a workforce of self-propelled employees centered in courage?
  • Do my employees/peers perceive me as credible?
  • When was the last time I had an “aha” insight about my leadership tendencies?

Courage-centering is the ability to call forth your everyday true Self to action—to lead from your heart and spirit. Claiming and displaying your courage at work and demonstrating courage-centering behaviors require you to invite your heart and spirit into your daily work life. These actions can be integrated without costing a dime because it’s an approach and a focus (not a program) that keeps you (or the organization) vital. Courageous-centering in the workplace promotes an ability for you to

  • take on the tough project;
  • tackle issues as the facts happen;
  • sponsor challenges to the status quo;
  • endorse “courage change agents”;
  • let go of condemnation and judgment;
  • confront uncomfortable truths;
  • remove indifference;
  • instill courageous will;
  • replace ambiguity with candor; and
  • escalate team dynamics to “step up” to the next level.

Courage-centering improves your understanding of who you are and affirms the power within you. These qualities can be honed by anyone willing to dig deeply into their true selves. Once “groomed,” courage becomes a resource to draw from at work and at home, and you will find that it is easily transferred to others so they can find courage within themselves. Then, courage becomes the sponsor for continuous improvement.


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