Cultivating Everyday Courage

13 September, 2021

What is the right way to speak truth to power? Stories about workplace courage often talk about the people fighting for positive change ending up ostracised, or losing their jobs. However, most acts of courage don’t come from whistle-blowers or organisational martyrs. They come from respected insiders at all levels who take action because they believe it’s the right thing to do. And in doing so, they may in fact see their status rise, writes James R. Detert in this Harvard Business Review article.

People who succeed in their courageous acts, or suffer fewer negative consequences, tend to exhibit certain behaviors: They lay the groundwork for action; they carefully choose their battles; they manage messaging and emotions; and they follow up afterward. Detert found that these behaviors can be learned and calls them “competently courageous”. In his article, he lays out the four principles that can help people at all levels to improve their chances of creating positive change and lower the risk of negative outcomes when speaking out.

His final advice is to, “keep your values and purpose front and center. You’ll have a stronger sense of self-respect through any setbacks you face, and you’ll be less likely to regret your actions, no matter how things turn out.”

Harvard Business Review Magazine, November–December 2018. Read the full article here.

Cranlana Centre for Ethical Leadership’s programs include the 2 day Executive Ethics, 6 day Executive Colloquium and year-long Vincent Fairfax Fellowship. We also deliver online and tailored corporate programs. Find the right program for you. They are all held under the Chatham House Rule to encourage genuine and open debate, and allow participants to candidly discuss sometimes sensitive issues in private while allowing the topic and nature of the debate to be made public, and contribute to a broader conversation. The alumni program offers ongoing leadership development support and a lifelong connection with Cranlana.

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