Monthly Archives: May 2011

Intentional Courage – Creating a Culture of Courage Leadership

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In a previous blog, I challenged you to “extend Trust to others” as an intentional action instead of waiting for enough experiences and behaviors to accumulate to allow that person into your trust circle.  Extending Trust requires Intentional Courage, and all too often that doesn’t happen since the risk of moving out of our comfort zone demands more than we are willing to commit. We gravitate to media accounts of people displaying extraordinary courage, often as a result of a catastrophic event or on the field of combat.  These Reactive Courage behaviors enable that person to achieve what might have seemed to be improbable results, and we stand in awe.

Courage Makes Your Leadership Visible

In the business world, we gravitate to leaders that display confidence and self-assurance.  My sense is that their success has resulted from a series of Intentional Courage actions, but these leaders are the exception to the rule.  In a Gallup Management Journal study on Overcoming Barriers to Success, fear was the first barrier cited, and the one most difficult to overcome.  We face fear when giving a presentation to a senior executive or key customer, informing a customer about a mistake or delay in schedule, or delegating an important task to a more junior person instead of doing it ourselves.  In each instance, the action needs to happen, and approaching it with Intentional Courage instead of fear can create dramatic differences in outcomes for all parties.

Business leaders face tough decisions frequently. Most of the time, they face a decision between an easy but poor choice versus the difficult but good choice. Those who succeed and become better and more assured leaders are those who can reach deep down inside and consistently act on the hard but right decision. They display courage that is highly visible to the organization.  Those behaviors in turn create an environment where courage is rewarded and pulls along others in the organization, creating an organizational competitive advantage.

We live in a business world where change is the norm.  Yet needed change of direction can be inhibited by the fear of changing course from the comfort of the current.  Strong leaders look forward, see where they need to go, make their plans, communicate with their teams and execute.  Intentional Courage illustrated.

I’ve started to access specific actions I have taken during the week that demanded Intentional Courage instead of just going with the status quo.  These daily and weekly scorecards create a set of metrics that guide me in what I must do to change outcomes, absorbing the risk of change to gain the benefit of greater success. Intentional Courage in business is a necessary behavior to achieve dramatic results, and can be good practice area for the larger and more demanding domain of Moral Courage that envelops all of the roles that we inhabit during our lifetime.  I’ll conclude with an extract from Robert Kennedy’s 1966 address to the University of Capetown.

“Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change the world which yields most painfully to change.”

Through each of our intentional actions, we can change outcomes in our business, our personal lives, and possibility the world around us.  It’s our choice to make.  Make it with Intentional Courage.

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Posted by on May 16, 2011 in Leadership, LinkedIn, Trust


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Oversimplifying and Under Thinking – Is Social Media the Cause or the Cure?

(This blog is available as a podcast –

When exactly did it become fashionable to Oversimplify and Under-Think important political, industry, financial, or education decisions?  More importantly, when did we as consumers of these poorly constructed solutions accept this as the new norm from what are alleged to be leaders in their respective fields? Whether your interests are the current political climate, corporate decisions on products and social responsibility, Wall Street’s influence on our economic health, or government policies on education, there are ample examples of decisions that don’t meet the standards of being well thought through or deal with the complexity of the problem.

As I’ve started to explore Social Media in greater depth the past few months, I’m trying to discern whether these new communication forums are adding to our collective knowledge base or eroding the discipline necessary for focused research and critical thinking.  Traditional academic or vocational training requires a laser focus and a lengthy time commitment to instill and remember the key points and lessons.  Social media can be as simple as a Retweet or a Like button. 

Social Media has enormous potential to bring many people together for group think on an important topic, but all too often it seems to have been to Oversimplify the topic and Under-Think the communication.  If you are active on Twitter, count the number of non-annotated Retweets you receive from someone you follow versus how many are original thoughts or media references.  The ones I value most are those that are original thought or make an introductory remark about a referenced URL they include.  This implies they have read and understand the material and believe their followers would find it valuable.  Blindly retweeting something tends to Oversimplify the communication. 

I know that some of you reading this blog are thinking that I have Over-Thought this Social Media issue. The prevailing belief is that Social Media is meant to be a stream of thoughts, and let the reader triage through all the Smart Phone hits or TweetDeck updates.  We have a real opportunity with Social Media that may not be realized if we don’t think through how we push information out to our followers.  

With Social Media, we can transform the traditional push model of learning into a pull model. Pull models treat people as networked innovators who are uniquely positioned to transform a problem into an opportunity. Pull models can be designed to accelerate knowledge building by participants, helping them to learn as well as innovate.  But that success is directly proportional to how much effort and thoughtfulness we put into the content that becomes pull available.  I’ve found this to be a delicate balancing act, since the instant gratification part of me wants to respond to each tweet or Facebook update, the structured part of me wants undivided time to itself to Think through the topic before pushing this content. 

Writing this blog is my self-imposed method of taking the Think approach, creating content that can be pulled by my followers.  They can then aggregate my thinking with others and produce a higher value content from which we can all learn and benefit.  As for my tweets, every so often I allow an Oversimplified and Under-Thought retweet loose on my followers.  Sorry about that. 

Try this approach yourself if you dare. You have the capacity to produce valuable content that can be pulled and leveraged to advance our collective learning. Then the promise of Social Media will be realized and we can all innovate the next frontier of communication and learning. 

Comments are welcome on this topic, as long as they are Thoughtful.

To learn more about Ed Becker, visit


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