What does it take to be able to say what needs to be said, when it needs to be said, and to whom it must be said? Managerial Courage. This leadership competency is an essential topic for leadership development programs, and is a central focus for many executive coaching initiatives.
I’ve recently been coaching two leaders who’ve been identified as possessing “high potential” for advancement in their organization. In assessing which leadership competencies they must develop, each leader, along with their respective bosses, has aligned on the topic Managerial Courage. But that is where the similarities end! When asked, each leader defines the stuff of managerial courage differently. And each of their bosses do, too.
Listening to each, I hear assorted aspects of what is to be achieved through our coaching:
- To respond more swiftly in real time (because they are over-thinking and staying silent)
- To trust they will be listened to when speaking (because they are accustomed to NOT talking)
- To believe their contributions are “legitimate” (because they over-value others, and under-value their own contributions)
- To learn to be uncomfortable, and more visible (because they have become too comfortable in familiar spaces)
- To behave more authentically (because they hide behind their positions and titles)
Discomfort abounds when a leader has to “get out of a comfort zone,” and that’s ok. However, anxieties increase when leaders fear “managerial courage” means they have to change their essence. I assure them they do NOT have to trade their stripes for spots! Their essence is who they are—and our coaching is to have them increase their own knowledge of who they are, what matters to them, why, and why that should matter to the people in their workplace. Courage begets courage—and the etymology of the word says it all—it comes from the heart.
The first step to increase managerial courage isn’t to “just do” the things I’ve bulleted above. The first step to increase managerial courage calls on the leader to examine his or her heart, and see what really matters. The second step is to share it. Heart speaks to heart.