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Wednesday's Word: Courage

Back in August, work gave me a book called Courage: The Backbone of Leadership. It sat on my desk for a couple of months. I read the intro and thought, "meh."

Then I took it with me on a business trip and have been devouring it for the last week and a half. If you work with me, and were given a copy, please read it. I'd love to hear thoughts on the application within our context. If you don't work with me or weren't given a copy, you should also read it.

Some snippets:

He was teaching me to behave according to values and rules instead of in response to fear or need.

No matter who we are and what we do, we are seduced by avoidance.

Most [American HR experts] confirm that the vast majority of male executives don't cheat but are conflict-adverse...about 80 percent...most of them agree that American female executives are more courageous in approaching conflict but often lack the institutional authority to have the impact of their male counterparts.

Results are resources passed through relationships.

When we swallow reality and fake being nice, we don't make things better. We make people sick, starting with ourselves.

Everyone needs regular, routine positive feedback.

We use statements to give encouragement and recognition...we use questions to discuss challenges and problems.

Leadership is about people and inspiring people. Management is organizations and controlling institutional functions.

Leaders respect and appreciate all, reward many, and fire a few.

It's wrong to adopt fear and avoidance as life principles. It's like using our brains and experience to build marble shrines to cowardice...Here we're asked to do what appears to be good and assured that doing it is OK if we make a habit of it.

Admirable or not, a core value is a nonnegotiable practice that is most obvious in times of stress...Institutional core values reflect the personal core values of the organization's leadership.

Low core values are common habits. Middle core values are visible best business practices. There are but three high core values: Integrity. Courage. Character.

The opposite of courage isn't fear; fear is simply the internal condition that courage overcomes. The opposite of courage is indifference.

Formal ethical codes can be purely theoretical. This means that informal, internal ethical codes have far more impact on actual behaviour.

and my personal favourite:

Courage doesn't depend on practical outcomes, risk versus gains analysis, or collateral impact on others - that's pragmatism. Pragmatism is the application of practicality, utility and consequences to decision making. Courage is addressing wrongs in the face of fear, regardless of consequences, of risk to self, or of potential practical gains.


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