Five Key Ingredients of the Courage Way

Five Key Ingredients of the Courage Way

guest post By Shelly L. Francis

Leadership is a daily, ongoing practice, a journey toward becoming your best self and inviting others to do the same. And at the heart of this daily practice is courage.

Through more than 120 interviews, I found a pattern of five key ingredients in how leaders have learned to cultivate courage. Three powerful main concepts are true self, trust, and community; the two key practices are paradox and reflection. Here’s a brief overview.

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True Self

Our basic premise is that inside of each person is the essential self who continues to grow and yet somehow, deep down, remains constant. Every person has access to this inner source of truth, named in various wisdom traditions as identity and integrity, inner teacher, heart, inner compass, spirit, or soul. Your true self is a source of guidance and strength that helps you find your way through life’s complexities and challenges. When you begin to listen to and trust the truest part of yourself, your choices and relationships flow from that trust, begetting more trust.

Trust

Courage takes trust—in ourselves and in each other. Trustworthy relationships create the conditions for people to flourish and for positive change to arise. Relational trust is based on our perceptions of personal regard, professional respect, competence, and integrity in other people. Coming to understand the attitudes, assumptions, and biases that lead to such perceptions of trust entails honest inner work. Our collection of principles and practices is a time-tested approach for facilitating inner work and cultivating relational trust.

Community

Becoming more self-aware and trustworthy requires both individual introspection and a supportive community. We offer a specialized meaning of community as “solitude’s alone together” as well as a “community of inquiry.” Our practices offer models for how to reflect and interact with each other so that new clarity and courage can emerge.

Being receptive to the very idea of needing other people in community takes courage and yet, in turn, creates resilience. Leaders must know how to invite people into and hold them accountable for co creating trustworthy space so that they can support each other in service of their work together. Achieving effective collaboration requires genuine trustworthy community.

Paradox

We can learn to practice paradox by recognizing that the polarities that come with being human (life and death, love and loss) are “both-ands” rather than “either-ors.” We can learn to let those tensions hold us in ways that stretch our hearts and minds open to new insights and possibilities. With paradox we honor both the voice of the individual and our collective intelligence. We trust both our intellects and the knowledge that comes through our bodies, intuitions, and emotions. Paradox values both speaking and listening. An appreciation of paradox enriches our lives, helping us hold greater complexity. Integrating our inner lives with our work in the world comes from daily practice in holding paradox.

Reflection

Refection cultivates more ways of knowing and learning that complement your mind and emotions, but draw from a deeper place: your intuition, imagination, and innermost being. Reflection is a practice that can be enriched by the mirroring of trust- worthy companions.

When we reflect together, such as by exploring how universal stories of human experience intersect with the personal stories of our lives, it can create relational trust. Guided conversations focused on a poem, a teaching story, a piece of music, or a work of art—drawn from diverse cultures and wisdom traditions—invite us to reflect on the big questions of our lives, allowing each person to explore them in his or her own way. Reflection helps us find the inner ground on which we stand firm, and it helps us find common ground with others.

If we are willing to embrace the challengeof becoming whole, we cannot embrace it all alone—at least, not for long: we need trustworthy relationships to sustain us, tenacious communities of support, if we are to sustain the journey toward an undivided life. Taking an inner journey toward rejoining soul and role requires a rare but real form of community that I call a “circle of trust.”

—Parker J. Palmer

 

About Shelly L. Francis

Shelly L. Francis has been the marketing and communications director at the Center for Courage & Renewal since mid-2012. Before coming to the Center, Shelly directed trade marketing and publicity for multi-media publisher Sounds True, Inc. Her career has spanned international program management, web design, corporate communications, trade journals, and software manuals.

The common thread throughout her career has been bringing to light best-kept secrets — technology, services, resources, ideas — while bringing people together to facilitate collective impact and good work. Her latest book The Courage Way: Leading and Living with Integrity identifies key ingredients needed to cultivate courage in personal and professional aspects of life.

feedback

This Feedback Could Change Your Life!

My Love of Feedback

I published a piece on my love of feedback several months ago and I am back to introduce another method of delivering feedback that works exponentially well.

With all the talk about eliminating performance management processes, it’s imperative to have something else, a process, to provide feedback in place.  This is so employees know how they are doing, to repeat productive behaviors or eliminate counter-productive behavior.

Imagine for a Moment

Imagine for a moment that you recently gave some feedback to a team member. You told her that her meeting agendas looked great, but she needed to significantly improve her presentation and meeting management skills.

It’s time to follow up a few weeks later to find out why she hasn’t made the changes needed to be more effective in the areas mentioned. In your follow-up, you discover that she didn’t understand what she could do to improve and that your feedback generated more questions than the benevolent help to intended. She was left thinking “What’s good about my agendas that I can leverage again?” and “What’s wrong with my presentation skills?” and “How did I mismanage the meeting?”

Developed by The Center for Creative Leadership, the Situation – Behavior – Impact (SBI) Feedback tool outlines a simple structure that you can use to deliver more effective feedback. It focuses your comments on specific situations and behaviors, and then outlines the impact that these behaviors have on others.

[Effective] Feedback is a focused dialogue between a manager and an employee, a method of sharing information and perspectives about performance. The goal of ongoing feedback is to identify where performance is effective and where performance needs improvement.

Effective feedback helps the receiver understand exactly what he or she did and what impact it had on you and others. When the information is specific, yet without interpretation, judgement, or evaluation, there is a better chance that the person hearing the  feedback will be motivated to begin, continue, or stop behaviors that affect performance.

Situation – Behavior – Impact

The Situation – Behavior – Impact technique of giving feedback is simple and contains three elements:

SITUATION: Anchors feedback in time, place, and circumstances and helps receiver remember and/or understand the context.

BEHAVIOR: Observable actions that can be recorded (audio or video) and allows feedback receiver to know exactly what he or she did that had impact.

IMPACT: Feelings and thoughts the feedback giver had, and how the feedback giver or others behaved as a result of the feedback receiver’s behavior.

In an organizational and work context, the impact of the behavior can include work outcomes, client satisfaction, work team, and/or the larger organization and business. It can also include the impact on the individual who demonstrated the behavior; in essence, the consequences or result of their behavior on their reputation, perceived professionalism, capability, etc.

Most often, a description of the impact will start with, “I felt …” or, “I was” or, “It appeared to me others were … “.  If you find yourself saying, “you were … “, you’re probably on the wrong track. An impact statement is not an interpretation of why the individual showed that behavior, and it is especially important not to label the behavior in a psychological way or to make a judgment about the person.

SO, before you jump on the bandwagon and eliminate your performance management process, contact us to help you and your employees give each other more effective feedback.  Getting this process in place first will help you make sure you make the right decision in the long term.

Who Are We

EDGE Business Management Consulting, a Network Partner with the Center for Creative Leadership, is a Human Capital Consulting firm, focusing on three primary areas to help you achieve exponential growth.  We can serve you in many ways, however our focus is in the areas of Talent Management, Organizational Development, and Leadership Development.

For immediate inquiries, contact Dan Freschi at (414) 301-3343 or email dan@edgebmc.com, and visit our website at www.edgebmc.com.

Leadership is Freak’n Hard

A guest blog post – by Bill Treasurer

A few years ago, while facilitating a leadership development workshop, I asked the CEO of a multi-billion dollar construction company to share a little known secret with the budding leaders in the room. He scratched his chin, waited a beat, and then said,

“Leadership is freak’n hard.”

Except he didn’t use the word freak’n.

There certainly is no shortage of leadership advice in the world, most of it peddled by consultants who have never actually been in a leadership role. Read any leadership blog today and you’re bound to get a bullet-pointed list of “just do this” advice, as if being a leader was as easy as a clicking on plug-and-play app.

The result of all this cheap advice is that leadership, as a concept, becomes attractive. If it’s easy, after all, and if a person can make more money in a leadership role, everyone should aim to be a leader. Were the cheap advice actually true, of course, there would be more actual leaders.

Construction Instruction

The truth about leadership, as the construction company CEO reminded us, is that being a leader is anything but easy. Here’s why:

  • It Takes Experience: You can read all the bullet points you want, but until you actually lead others, you won’t be a leader. Stop reading and start leading.
  • Your Job is Discomfort: Ginny Rometty, the CEO of IBM, put it best, “Growth and comfort don’t coexist.” Your job as a leader is to bring about growth through change. By definition, that requires you to make people uncomfortable.
  • Speed and Accuracy Don’t Mix: Decisiveness is a hallmark of leadership. Leaders need to render fast decisions, lest they become bottlenecks. Rarely will you have enough perfect information to make a perfect decision. Translation? Decisions come with risks.
  • You’ll Have a Bull’s-eye on Your Back: Oscar Wilde once said, “Whenever there is a man who exercises authority, there is a man who resists authority.” Especially in America where independence is a virtue. Leadership requires a certain degree of control over the behavior of others. Yet what self-respecting person likes to be controlled?
  • It Takes Humble Confidence: If you get too big for your leadership britches, you’ll lose people’s loyalty in a heartbeat. But if you aren’t confident, you’ll be seen as weak. You’ll need to be simultaneously confident and humble.

Faced with the hard realities about leadership, the first decision an aspiring leader should make is whether they really want to lead. Here are a few questions to help you discern your answer:

  • What attracts you to the concept of leadership? Why do you want to lead?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 equating to “very thin” and 10 equating with “very thick”, how thick is your skin? When people second-guess your decisions, how upset are you likely to get?
  • How comfortable and fast are you when it comes to taking risks? What is your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?
  • What natural skills, talents, and abilities will make you a good leader? What skills, talents, and ability do you still need to develop?

The real attraction of serving in a leadership role isn’t the potential for making more money, or having people at your beck and call. The real attraction should be the positive difference you may be able to make through your leadership influence.

Whenever I ask seasoned leaders what they are most grateful for about being a leader, the most common answer is the chance to make a difference in people’s lives. That’s the leadership reward for all that freak’n hard work.

 

BTBill Treasurer is the Chief Encouragement Officer of Giant Leap Consulting and author of Leaders Open Doors, which focuses on how leaders create growth through opportunity. 100% of the book’s royalties are being donated to programs that support children with special needs. Bill is also the author of Courage Goes to Work, Right Risk, and Courageous Leadership, and has led courage-building workshops across the world for NASA, Accenture, CNN, PNC Bank, SPANX, Hugo Boss, Saks Fifth Avenue, and the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and many others. Contact Bill at btreasurer@giantleapconsulting.com, or on Twitter at @btreasurer.

 

Mistakes, Errors, and Humility

If you’ve made a mistake in your life, raise your hand…great.  If you’ve learned something from your mistakes, leave your hand up…great!  If you’ve used what you’ve learned from your mistakes to prevent it from happening again, keep your hand up…great!  If you’ve used what you’ve learned from your mistakes and applied it to a whole different situation, great, that’s learning agility.  The Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology uses the following to define learning agility:

Learning agility refers to a person’s desire and ability to learn from experience, and to then apply their learning to other situations
Generally speaking, people who have a greater ability for learning agility take more control over their own learning by finding opportunities to grow, requesting feedback about their work, and consistently engage in self-reflection and evaluation regarding their work and careers.
So where is this leading you might ask?  Let’s look at mistakes and errors as a starting point.  Mistakes imply a misconception or inadvertence and usually expresses less criticism than an error.  An error suggests a standard or guide exists and not making effective use of this, instead straying from the right course resulting in failure.  Regarding the error, the standard or guide may be written, verbally agreed to, or perhaps an unwritten, unspoken cultural norm that exists.  The key to mistakes and errors is that we learn from them and leverage that experience for other situations.  This requires that we have the courage to take risks, be creative and innovative and know that we might fail.
Which leads me to humility.
Humility by definition is the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people : the quality or state of being humble.  If one believes that they are better than other people, they also are inclined to believe that they do not make mistakes or errors.  We all know someone who has never backed down for fear of being perceived as weak or dismissing others ideas just because the it’s not aligned with their ideas for fear of being wrong or dismissing valid performance feedback for fear of actual self-reflection.  To overcome fear Bill Treasurer, author of Courage Goes to Work, proposes a bold antidote: courage.  Courage is not fearlessness, in fact it is being fearful and being able to overcome that fear.  When someone says “that was a humbling experience” they are saying “before that situation I felt I was better than the other people involved and now I don’t.”  They overcame their fears of self-reflection.  When practiced often this can lead to higher learning agility.  So, those people that we know, who fear making mistakes and errors, who lack humility, must learn to have courage first to overcome whatever it is they fear.
Whether we make a mistake, commit an error, or even fail at something, it’s imperative that we recognize we have a choice to learn from the situation.  To actually learn and apply it to a new situation, we must overcome our fears by demonstrating humility and courage.
Nothing happens until something moves.