Talking courage with a C-Suite Executive in Europe

(2.5 minute read.)

Michelle_Lock_002525 years ago, Michelle Lock started her career in the pharmaceutical industry in Melbourne, Australia.  Since then, she has worked and lived in many different countries and cultures including the UK, Japan, USA and Switzerland, where she has learned first-hand that whilst cultures and languages may be different, having courage is the same anywhere in the world.  She is currently living and working in Switzerland as the Head of Europe – Sage Therapeutics.

Join Michelle as she shares her perspectives on courage … and also invites a few friends to share their perspectives too.

How would you describe workplace courage?

Individually, courage is to brave enough to do what you believe is right.  It’s the ability to make the right decision and communicate it clearly, knowing that there are often consequences.

As a leader, courage is about investing in people to facilitate their growth.

What does courage look like in your workplace?

Courage in our workplace is about clarity of communication; it is about having clear career discussions that enable individuals to understand where they are perceived strong or otherwise.  Not so many leaders are truly brave enough to share this reality.

Please describe 1 or 2 examples of times in which you have been courageous.  What did you do?  Who/what enabled you to be courageous?  What was the outcome?  

I believe in investing in people; providing ongoing coaching that is clear and understandable to enable folks to achieve more than they believe is possible.  Watching many individuals move into senior positions has been amongst the great highlights of my career.

Conversely, coaching an individual to understand that their career growth would not continue in their current company took courage.  Acknowledging that they were highly talented but had not networked with the correct people which became consequential, was part of the coaching conversation.  Ultimately though, the outcome was helping this same individual to find a new role in a new company, where their career rapidly moved forward.

Reflective coaching is confronting for many folks and an investment for the coach.

Courage-is-what-it-takes-to-stand-up-and-speak-cou_Michelle Lock

Who do you most admire for their courage?  Why?  How have they inspired you to be courageous?

I am very fortunate to have met some wonderful mentors early in my career:

  • A particular gentleman who taught me the power of investing and believing in people
  • As an Australian communicating directly came naturally, but early in my career I met a HR leader who was brave enough to really teach me how to channel communication in an impactful way
  • Leaders who have shown how balancing work and personal life allows you to be better at both, and
  • An incredibly supportive family

Having support and positive influence is very empowering and allows you to take risks that perhaps others may not be comfortable with.

I admire most people who are honest, and who invest in others but never lose sight of the big picture.  Success comes in all shapes and forms.

While sitting at breakfast with three lovely, successful ladies, I asked them the question “What is courage?”  Their responses follow:

  1. Strength comes through people being more vulnerable. “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” ~Brené Brown
  2. To be willing to take risks and do what you think is right
  3. To battle with dignity

It’s different for everyone.

 cat_Michelle Lock

To me this picture shows integrity and strength, but still a willingness to fight.  I also like the reflection in the background as it signifies an acceptance of the normal size and abilities, which takes courage!

If you would like to learn more from Michelle she can be contacted on

Michelle and I have enjoyed a number of experiences together in the 21 years that we have known each other – some of these courageous, others perhaps a little reckless.  While there may be many months between being in the same physical space together, when we are together we pick up exactly where we left off.  She is both friend and inspiration to me.  For all of this, I am grateful.  I look forward to many more years of shared courageous experiences.


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