How To Train For Courage

Courage can be transformative. BUT how do you train for courage?

Now that’s a good question. We’ve talked now about the transformative potential of courage, both to your people and to your organization. But how do you unlock that potential? Let’s dive into that.

I’ve got three critical questions you’ve got to ask yourself:

  1. What is driving the need for courage in your organization?
  2. What are some appropriate displays of courage you would like to see more often?
  3. Why do people, including yourself, avoid acting with courage?

Have you answered those? If you have, you’re on the way to understanding how to best incorporate courage into your organization. Courage is very personal. What requires me to be courageous is different from what requires you to be courageous. The same goes for your people. They won’t all show up tomorrow asking for new projects to lead. You’ve got to connect with them. Here are some ideas I’ve got on how to do that.

Start conversations. Remember, courage is personal. Talk with them. Find out what they want to do or learn but haven’t pushed themselves to do yet. Ask them about times they were nervous, anxious, or uncertain (all indicators that you’re encountering your fear), but pushed through that and did the tough thing anyway. Share with them times you didn’t push through your own discomfort, and as a result an opportunity passed by that you regret losing.

Banish this; replace with that. If you take only one thing from here, let it be this. Don’t talk to me (or your people) about what keeps you up at night. Stop spreading your fear and anxiety to me. Talk to me about what gets you up in the morning! I want to know what inspires you, excites you, makes you look forward to working with the people you spend so much time with. Don’t you think the people you lead and work with want to know the same thing?

Collaborate on the possibilities. Are you great at giving answers and direction, or do you take the time (probably extra time) to draw out possible answers and direction from your team members? I want to encourage you to be very deliberate about drawing people out on your team. Solicit their ideas, give room for that discussion, and strive to not dismiss their ideas immediately.

Make way for courage. If you are asking your team to show up with more courage, be prepared for them to do just that! This means you have to provide them with meaningful challenges, engage them in problem solving, share responsibility, and be open to their feedback and ideas.

Recognize the effort. Courageous decisions involve risk to some degree, which means every one won’t work out the way you had planned. As you work with your people to be more courageous, some of their work won’t turn out perfectly. They’ll stumble and make mistakes. Work with them to learn from those mistakes but remember to applaud the effort not just the results of their courageous decisions.

These ideas are focused on use as a leader, and I want to share two leadership dispositions.

  • The Filler – a leader that builds people’s confidence and encourages those they lead and work with to grow and move outside of their comfort zone
  • The Spiller – a leader that motivates through fear, they are often overly anxious or cautious and discourage those they lead

I’ve prepared a free PDF download that tells you even more about these two leadership dispositions and includes some tips on dealing with a Chronic Spiller. Just click here to access it.

For now, think about a boss you’ve had that you really admire. What did they do or say to encourage people?

Tell me in the comments or over on Facebook.


photo credit: Unsplash

Bill Treasurer

About Bill Treasurer

Bill Treasurer is a bestselling author, leadership consultant, and creator of Q Cards. He is the founder of Giant Leap Consulting, a courage-building company, and the author of the international bestseller, Courage Goes to Work. His workshops have been taught to thousands of executives in eleven countries on five continents. For more than two decades, Bill has designed and delivered programs for emerging and experienced leaders from such organizations as NASA, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lenovo, eBay, UBS Bank, Spanx, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to founding Giant Leap Consulting, Bill served as an executive in Accenture’s change management and human performance practice, eventually becoming the $35 billion company’s first full-time internal executive coach.

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