Jim Detert is the author of Choosing Courage: The Everyday Guide to Being Brave at Work – a research-based guide for standing up and speaking out skillfully at work. Have you ever wanted to disagree with your boss? Speak up about your company’s lack of diversity or unequal pay practices? Make a tough decision you knew would be unpopular?
In this episode, Jim discusses the moral imperative and research-based tactics to help you become more competently courageous at work. Doing for courage what Angela Duckworth has done for grit and Brene Brown for vulnerability, Jim explains that courage isn’t a character trait that only a few possess; it’s a virtue developed through practice.
Jim is also a professor at the Darden Graduate School of Business and the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia.
[4:25] When we think of courage, we often think of our heroes; the military and firefighters; but Jim has a different definition of what courage looks like in the workplace.
[6:25] Unfortunately, work has a lot of risks and people are often afraid to speak up. You can be seen as courageous just by simply doing your job and doing what’s right.
[9:25] Jim breaks down the difference between being inspired by something vs. being inspired to do something.
[10:10] It was important to Jim to tell and highlight stories the everyday person can relate to.
[11:50] Jan explains what compassionate candor looks like.
[13:10] It’s the leader’s job to take on risks, apologize, and be there for their people. Courage comes when there is a baseline safety within an organization.
[17:45] People often view workplace courage as an act, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s actually a process. Jim explains more about how courage really works.
[21:40] By having options, by being highly sought after in their field, it’s easier for people to be courageous.
[25:05] People are fed up. Instead of trying to fix a broken organization from within, they’d rather completely opt out and resign.
[30:10] The jury is still out on how fundamental the changes are going to be that the pandemic has had on society.
[32:35] As people are leaving the workforce, we have to also look at the people who are staying in the workforce, and really evaluate if their needs are being met.
[34:45] Your inner dialogue can completely distort your entire reality and make it harder for you to work with your external dialogue.
[38:35] Leaders need to shift the frame from “you” language to “we” language. Aim to create win-win scenarios and try not to alienate your people with the words you use.
[41:10] Listener challenge: Choose courage and decide today to take one step towards that.
- “By presenting stories of every race, gender, political persuasion, and income level, I hope people let go of that myth that courage is for someone special.”
- You don’t need courage to have difficult conversations. You need to care about your people so deeply you are able to compassionately provide candid feedback.
- Work on the inner dialogue so as to not destroy the external dialogue.