But what does it mean when an organizations espouses that one of its guiding values is courage? I am guessing it doesn’t mean that leaders and staff are expected to risk they lives, undergo heroic sacrifice and face profound personal challenges to meet their team goals? Maybe it does, but I’m guessing not. And if not, then what does it mean for an organization to be courageous? Have the organizations that have adopted this value given much thought to what it means?
Inherent in the organizational value of courage is acceptance of risk. Encouraging leaders to have the courage to take chances, innovate and execute means there will be a concomitant acceptance of risk. Courageous leaders may not necessarily do what is popular and instead, bravely adopt what is right. Leaders may demonstrate courage in ways which challenge or upset the status quo.
Admittedly courage does not square well with historically risk-averse organizations. Fear of risk often results in micro-management to ensure that any negative outcome is mitigated. Are the micro-managers going to exercise courage and empower the people reporting to them to do the right thing?
Effective leaders understand that in order to drive innovation, execute plans and coach and motivate staff they must exercise a form of courage whether its part of the organizational credo or not. Courage means making the best decision not just the popular or politically correct one. Courage in the face of adversity when a project fails or an employee is let go. There is substantial courage underlying the “elevator pitch” to the senior executive or facing the wrath of an unhappy shareholder or community group.
The implications of adopting a value like courage extends far beyond mere platitudes or buzzwords. It’s a loaded word and one which can profoundly change an organization. If organizations are willing to let it. And that’s where the real courage lies.
Do you agree? Is courage just another one of the throwaway words that end up on vision statements and strategic plans? Is it fair for an organization to espouse a value of courage but continue to micro manage and control every decision? Appreciate your comments and views.