She demonstrated that courage is not a form of arrogance or rashness.Second, Ms. Cooper tackled this daunting challenge understanding that the consequences of her actions could be a loss of work. In contrast, one WorldCom colleague went along with the illegal scheme in order to protect her employment status. A court later sentenced that associate and five others, including ex-CEO Bernie Ebbers, for their transgressions. Two different people having the same fears but taking two entirely different steps. What a difference courage can make!Nobody is born with a sense of valor, but it can be learned. In her 2007 Harvard Business Review article, “Courage as a Skill,” Kathleen Reardon indicates courage is a decisionmaking process involving an ability to assess one’s own motives for raising sensitive issues and the impact of taking bold action. She suggests asking forthright questions to help individuals avoid emotional or impulsive actions. Some of these questions are paraphrased below:What does a successful outcome look like in this high-risk scenario?
Does the contemplated action advance the group’s principles and values?If my gain is personal, is it driven by ambition or by the desire to seek a greater good?
Business leaders can foster courage in their organizations by modeling positive behavior and by praising and rewarding those employees who bring errors to light. Managers can also put egos aside, letting it be known that they are open to suggestions, as well as constructive criticism. Fostering small acts of courage can lead to more prudent risk-taking that may ultimately save the company from embarrassing ethical breaches.
by Shannon Warren