(3.5 minute read.)
Kim Cross, Director of HRevolution has 30+ years of Human Resources and operational experience. She has a passion for:
- Inspirational leadership with clear and well communicated strategies
- Equity, fairness and consistency
- Collaboration and inclusion
- Organisational culture
- Effective and efficient processes and systems
- Continuous improvement and innovation
Join us as Kim shares that honesty is the common theme in her courageous actions. Honesty which is one of the strengths of the virtue of Courage, is, in fact, Kim’s number one VIA Character Strength.
How would you describe workplace courage?
I describe workplace courage as an action that takes one out of their comfort zone, has an element of personal risk and challenges the status quo; with the underlying intent of a good result for all.
Workplace courage, in my experience, comes in many forms and is largely dependent on the culture of the organisation. Is innovation and creativity encouraged or risk aversion more prevalent? Employees are more inclined to be courageous in organisations where they are encouraged to challenge and offer suggestions for improvement.
Workplace courage may involve taking calculated risks with thought, plan and timing considered rather than an impulsive action. A courageous act may be in the form of a crucial conversation, a challenge to the effectiveness of a current process or procedure or a suggested change to a structure or system.
Workplace courage is not limited by hierarchy.
All employees should have the opportunity to act courageously without fear of blame or retribution. This is only possible where values such as trust, honesty and respect are encouraged and demonstrated by all employees regardless of position.
What does courage look like in your workplace?
My current workplace is vastly different to the corporate world I have operated within for the past 30+ years! Working independently, courage is more about trusting my knowledge, experience and consultancy skills when meeting with perspective clients and representing my business values of honesty, integrity and innovation. Having the courage to decline work if I can’t add value to the client/organisation or suggesting a change to the proposed solution based on past experience can be challenging and rewarding.
My preferred courageous style is to “test the water” rather than take a “leap of faith”. My approach is one of engagement, thought and plan; considering the desired outcome and fall-back position if required. I call this my “ripple effect”. I “dip my toe” and watch the ripples to see the immediate effect of my courageous act before proceeding further (is there a gentle ripple or a possible tsunami?). Some would say this is a less courageous approach but, as long as you reach the desired outcome, does it really matter if it is a softer approach which may take longer? I have had to take the “leap of faith” on occasion. This really relies on having a trusted support team to either catch you or cheer you on from the sidelines. Whilst not my preferred courageous style, it can be exhilarating as you test your own resilience to survive the immediate impact and continue on to the common goal.
Describe 1 or 2 examples in which you have been courageous.
I’ve reflected on the courageous actions I have taken over the years in the workplace and have realised there is a common theme; honesty.
A number of years ago a senior leader gave me the feedback that he found my honesty disarming. I pondered this feedback for quite a while. I had not considered my need for honesty to be an offensive or defensive weapon! Honesty, for me, is the only policy. Over the years I have learnt that not everyone wants or is prepared to receive honest advice/feedback. I have had to adjust my approach based on the person, situation or desired outcome. I am always honest but I adjust my delivery to be empathetic, compassionate or direct depending on the situation and the best outcome for all.
Fortunately, I have worked in organisations and with leaders who have valued my honesty and supported my “no smoke and mirrors” approach.
It takes courage to stay true to your authentic self in all situations. Having the support and encouragement of your senior leader is definitely an advantage!
The consequence of my unflagging honest approach in work as in life, is that I am a trusted advisor/confidante/mentor/friend to many, which I truly value.
From your point of view, to what extent are Australia’s leaders leading with courage?
Leading with courage is more challenging in the current climate of digital technology, in particular social media. The audience is far greater and feedback is expected and instantaneous. Leaders need to be resilient, prepared, consultative and perhaps more courageous. Once again, the organisational culture is crucial as, leadership where a culture of trust, honesty and innovation is encouraged, will allow for greater risk taking without fear of blame.
I have had the privilege to work with a number of courageous leaders where the organisation, globally, has supported innovation and creativity as core behaviours and, as a result, many great and innovative ideas were presented, implemented and continue to this day.
I suggest that, whether you are a leader or not, you trust yourself to be courageous.
Whilst taking that first step can be really scary, you can “test the water”, or take that “leap of faith” if you have done your research and have the support mechanisms in place. Any courageous act undertaken with good intent for all, can’t fail! You may need to retreat and regroup if there is resistance, but perseverance combined with courage is a great combination!!
If you would like to continue this conversation Kim, she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kim’s words, like her actions, are thoughtful and caring. Kim is always considerate of the person with whom she is interacting, creating many high quality connections. In each of our connections, Kim is empathic, compassionate and honest. Her wisdom is sought professionally and personally.