Developing Courageous Culture

March 11, 2021 |

Aim Higher: How to Develop a Courageous Culture

Courageous Cultures with Karin Hurt & David Dye

The greatest tragedies are not based on pitched battles where life-long enemies are pitted against each other. Those are fun for action movies where the hero and the villain have very clear roles and opposing goals. But that’s not tragic; it’s melodramatic. Tragedy is when two people have the same goals but don’t know it. When they miss making the connection by a few minutes. When they overhear only part of a conversation. When there is one piece missing of a beautiful puzzle and then everything falls apart.

“Courageous questions are specific, vulnerable, active, and intentional.” – David Dye

That seems to be the case with many companies and staff feedback. Employees say they have great ideas and want to share! When polled, those ideas are not trivial ramblings. They’re mostly about important things–improving the customer experience, employee satisfaction and productivity. And leaders say they value feedback from the field. So why, then, do those two “star crossed” groups seem to meet so rarely? If employees are a great source for new ideas and innovations, and leaders value their input, how come getting good feedback loops in place is so hard?

“True leaders always put a spotlight on others.”  – Skip Prichard

Be the Leader You Want Your Boss to Be

My two guests on this week’s episode of “Aim Higher” help put that tragedy into perspective and provide a path through to success. In short: it requires courageous conversations that lead to a courageous culture.

Leadership and courageous conversations start with courageous questions! What are those? It’s on you, as a leader, to set the stage. Just asking, “What are your best ideas, people?” isn’t helpful. It’s vague and it sets your people up for failure and embarrassment. David Dye and Karin Hurt wrote the book Courageous Cultures tells me that a courageous question must be specific, vulnerable, active, and intentional.

“Closed loop communications are so important for morale.”  – Skip Prichard

Ask for One Thing

So, for example, you might ask, “What’s one thing we can do to prevent this particular project from going over budget?”

That’s specific, because it’s about one thing. It’s vulnerable, because you’re assuming there’s a possibility it could go over budget. It’s active, because it’s for something immediate and useful. And it’s intentional, because it could be directly put into place and make a difference right now. That kind of question can help draw out real innovation, possible roadblocks and identify staff who truly know what’s going on where the rubber-meets-the-road.

“Be the leader you want your boss to be.” – Karin Hurt

Employee feedback can be a tremendous source of innovation–but only when leaders foster courageous conversations.

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