Yesterday at the ATD International Conference, Brené Brown shared her perspective on courage in the workplace. She confessed, which many people nodded in agreement, that she thinks leadership is one of the hardest things she has ever pursued, because great leaders are selfless. They give their time and energy to help others. Great leaders tackle tough challenges. They bring up the topics that need to be discussed and go there. They address the elephants in the room and take action on what needs attention, even when it is the last thing they want to do.
So yes, leadership isn’t for the faint of heart. Leaders need to build and use their courage. And I love how Brene talks about courage.
Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor - the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant "To speak one's mind by telling all one's heart." Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences -- good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as "ordinary courage.”
Speaking from our heart is easier said than done. It is not easy to always say what you truly think and feel. We have been working with organizations for over a decade to turn the idea of being brave into a reality. It takes skill. It takes practice. And we can’t put it off any longer.
Great leaders are needed – now more than ever. We need people willing to be courageous in our companies, in our schools, in our communities. General Electric’s CEO Jeffrey Immelt gave the keynote address last weekend at NYU’s Business School Commencement. His call to action for the graduates was to have courage and venture into the unknown. He shared, “You are entering into a volatile global economy, the most uncertain I have ever seen. This is a world that needs better leaders, with new skill sets. The playbook from the past won’t cut it today. My advice for you as you enter this world is to be flexible, be bold, and don’t fear criticism.”
So, it is time now, leaders, to be brave and to be fierce. How will you share more of your heart with others?