Courageous Work isn't just about swinging for the fences, though it certainly encompasses that. In addition to taking risks and pushing to meet stretch goals, courageous work also requires that employees:
Now, ask yourself this: how likely would any employee be to take those kinds of actions if they did not feel that their leadership was perceptive, fearless, loyal, and open?
No employee is going to provide push-back or honest feedback to a boss who won’t be emotionally open to it. No employee is going to abandon maximization of her performance metrics to improve team performance, if she suspects she’ll have to personally pay for such a sacrifice due to the cluelessness of her boss.
This is why fearful leaders — managers and bosses who lead through an emotional face of fear — inspire CYA actions, a play-it-safe careerism, and office politics.
Fearless leaders not only act with courage themselves, but they drive out fear in their team, especially their direct reports, by:
This is how these leaders set the stage for a command climate that fosters courageous work. In fact, from our results, we've seen that a fearless leader can positively impact people she interacts with on a daily basis, including direct reports and colleagues.
While a single fearless leader can create a command climate that inspires courageous work, it takes changing a significant percentage of an organization's leaders to really affect the overall culture.
Then again, that's really the best way (and fastest) to change a culture -- one leader at a time.