Soccer field at night with two teams having courage playing soccer

No “I” in Courage

This is a post about making corporate courage a team sport.

Easier said that done.

How might one go about making a more brave organization? Where to even start?

Not surprisingly, it often starts with that first person having the courage to be, well….courageous.

Someone has to take those first “solo journey” steps. There has to be a personal commitment to taking on what’s hard. And there has to be conviction. You DO need to believe. But sooner or later, it’s about building a support system that can help you get through whatever strife comes your way.

Return on Courage: A Business Playbook for Courageous Change, was a prime example of this. My book only exists because so many people gave me access to their time, minds, and stories. Leaders who had walked the path before me — like Eric Ryan (Founder of Method), Russell Weiner (CEO of Domino’s), Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides (Virgin Galactic), and steven wilhite (CMO of Apple + VW) — furthered my faith that I was on the right “corporate courage” path.

Interestingly, as I relied on more people, the risk to my reputation decreased as well. After connecting with others who willingly shared, the topic changed from “courage” to “collective courage”.

What I learned: when courage shifts from “do it yourself ” to “do it together” that’s when the magic happens. Courage becomes a multiplier when it becomes a team sport.

As an example of this (speaking of teams), my partners and I spent last week with the 100 who make up the front office of the LA Galaxy. We couldn’t have been more impressed with their open-mindedness to have courageous conversations to address what needed to be addressed.

Ryan Berman on stage speaking

Their new President, Thomas Braun , could have very easily just toldthe organization how they were going to operate. Instead, he showed a willingness to first listen.

It reminds me of a question I often ask audiences from the stage:

How Do You Eat An Elephant?

One Bite At A Time?

Do you have time to eat a corporate elephant that slowly?

Of course you don’t.

Spoiler Alert: The way you take down an elephant is with a pack of aligned strategic lions.  It’s faster than you think. And it’s how you pick up time.

So how can you form a team that’s united on a shared playbook to take down the elephant?

It starts by creating these “safe” forums for hard but honest conversations. It then requires leadership landing on a clear shared vision. The North Star snowball grows (or melts) pending on the leaders ability to operationalize what’s most important. And if they can consistently manifest it overtime, they not only create true team buy-in — but an expectation over time.

Getting courage right looks like this:

Courageous path arrow

The business world is tough enough. Going at it alone is both 1) slow, and 2) lonely.

Even when you’re a sole practitioner, you can hire a business coach, put in place an advisory board, or create an internal committee to help you through the tough decisions and potential hardships. If you have a solid plan in place and a committed team to help you, your journey will be less risky, and you won’t have to go at it alone.

Ryan Berman
Ryan Berman
Ryan is an author, keynote speaker, and the founder of Courageous. His book, Return on Courage, shows how during these courage deficient times, courage is a competitive advantage for those leaders who choose to unlock it.
Twitter @ryanberman | LinkedIn @ryanberman

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