Being courageous in the workplace is key to an all-round balance work environment.

Having worked with numerous organisations and teams, I have observed that the one skill sorely lacking is courage. Yes, it is a skill and not just a personality trait. But before I delve into what is required to build courage, let me identify some of the behaviours and cultural issues that leaders see as getting in their way.

What is getting in the way of courageous thinking?

Firstly, the avoidance of tough conversations, including giving honest productive feedback is one. The consequence of this is a lack of clarity, diminishing trust and engagement and an increase in problematic behaviour. Secondly, not enough people are taking smart risks or creating and sharing bold ideas to meet changing demands. When people fear being put down or being ridiculed for trying something and failing, the best you can expect is the status quo and groupthink. Thirdly, diminishing trust caused by lack of connection and empathy.

I believe most leaders can look at these behaviours and quickly recognise not only the challenges in our organisations but our own internal struggle to show up and lead through discomfort. What underlies these are deeply human issues. Brene Brown in “Dare to Lead” shares the result of her research into courageous living, which led to a very clear and hopeful finding, namely that Courage is a collection of four skills sets that can be taught, observed and measure.


The Four Skill Sets

– Rumbling with Vulnerability

– Living into our own Values

– Braving Trust

– Learning to Rise

The foundational skill of courage-building is the willingness and ability to rumble with vulnerability. Without this core skill, the other three skills are impossible to put into practice” – Brene Brown.

We often think of being courageous as a trait we either have or don’t have. However, it is less about who we are as people but rather about how we behave and show up in various circumstances. The true underlying obstacle to brave leadership is how we respond to fear, being the emotion at the centre of undesirable behaviour and cultural issues. And this is what is required from leaders, which I define as anyone who takes responsibility and accountability for finding the potential in all resources and has the courage to develop that potential. We desperately need more leaders who are brave enough to lead from their hearts, rather than managers who lead from hurt and fear. The level of collective courage in an organisation is the best predictor of the organisation’s ability to succeed in terms of its culture and to meet its vision.

If you resonate with Ann’s philosophy on courageous living and leadership, connect with her here so she can help you and your organisation.  

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