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A Business Can Profit From a Courageous Work Force

Bill Treasurer
Bill Treasurer

Who wins with a courageous work force?


With less fear and more courage, workers take on harder projects, deal better with change, and start speaking up on important issues. The company and the boss benefit and, in bettering their own performance, employees do, too. Building this winning work force, however, requires both will and skill. Managers must understand three specific types of courage — try courage, trust courage and tell courage — and learn how to develop them in workers.

Bill Treasurer, founder and CEO of Giant Leap Consulting Inc., a national consulting group specializing in courage-building and author of Courage Goes to Work, believes that as leaders prepare to close another business year and look for ways to invigorate their employees for another productive year, they ultimately need to think about how to build trust among the staff and to support leadership.

"Every person has the capacity to be courageous," Treasurer says. "All it takes is a willingness to be uncomfortable in exchange for pursuing a worthy challenge."

Try Courage: Want people to step up to the plate? Try courage — the courage of initiative and action — is the answer. With try courage, employees have the guts to take the lead and do something new — even attempt a “first.” They welcome challenges, stretch their skills and make things happen — all with little or no hand-holding.

To help workers develop try courage: * Emphasize the risks of not risking. The risk of inaction is usually more perilous than the risk of action. When assigning tough tasks, emphasize the dangers of not taking the risk, including a potential hit to employees’ personal and career development or, worst-case scenario, their job security.

Play to their strengths. Build on employees’ existing strengths and capabilities when giving them a risky new task or project. It’s easier to be courageous with even a little experience on a big task.

* Give them something to prove. Provide challenges that cause people to prove themselves to themselves. When the going gets rough, having something to prove can be a source of energy and motivation.

Treasurer says, "every person, personally and professionally, faces 'high-dive moments.' The questions become what's your high dive and why haven't you taken it?"

Trust Courage

Want people to give others the benefit of the doubt? Trust courage — the courage of confidence in others — is the answer. With trust courage, employees let go of their need to control situations or outcomes and, instead, put their faith in those around them. They are open to direction and change, and don’t waste time questioning motives or looking for hidden agendas.

To help workers develop trust courage:

* Trust first. Resist the temptation to turn trust into a quid pro quo — I will give you trust after you give me trust — and end up producing a stalemate in which nobody trusts anyone. Trust first — period.

* Build “instant trust.” With the right conditions, trust can be gained surprisingly quickly. Create a trusting environment by establishing ground rules with employees on issues such as keeping confidences, respecting others, and fostering true professionalism.

* Know the criteria. Get to know people — who they are and what they value — and find out the criteria by which they give their trust. Ask each person on your team to complete the statement: I will trust you when..."

"People perform better, and with higher morale, when they are operating out of confidence and courage then when they are operating out of fear and anxiety. Despite this fact, stoking peoples' fear is still the primary way leaders try to motivate people in the workplace."

Tell Courage

Want people to speak their minds? Tell courage — the courage of voice — is the answer. With tell courage, employees engage others with candor and conviction. They raise difficult issues, provide tough feedback, and share unpopular opinions.

To help workers develop tell courage:

* Encourage precision: o be most effective, tell courage requires thought and precision. Ask workers to know — in exact terms — what they want to say and what they hope to achieve.

* Take action: Employees get frustrated — rightfully so — when they muster up the courage to speak up, only to have it fall on deaf ears. Respect and reinforce tell courage by taking swift and sure action on what people say.

* Be careful what you wish for. :s a manager, you may think you want workers to have more tell courage. But when they start speaking out, you may think otherwise. Commit yourself to listening to what people have to say — no matter how hard it is to hear — and refrain from responding rashly or defensively. Have the courage to be told to!

To learn more about Treasurer and his book, visit


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