Talking courage with an Affiliate Professor & Consultant

(3 minute read).

Marianne RMarianne Roux is an Affiliate Professor of Practice in Executive Development at Monash and Melbourne Business Schools.  She also runs her own global leadership and transformation consulting firm operating across Africa, the Middle East and Asia Pacific.  Marianne’s research and work focuses on organisations, leaders and human resource functions in the new world of work.

She has a keen interest in developing women and alleviating poverty. She serves on the Boards of Hagar Australia and YGAP and in 2016 founded the Coalition of Female Social Entrepreneurs,  a development and networking platform for immigrant female social entrepreneurs in Australia.

Marianne was chosen as one of 52 Inspirational Women at Work in South Africa in 2004, and as one of 20 Female Entrepreneurs by Management Today in 2011 in Australia.  In 2015 she won the Excellence in NFP consulting award from the Worldwide Who’s Who. She is a regular keynote speaker on Leadership and Organisations in the new world of work.

Join us as Marianne shares how courage is important for own voice and also for the voice of others.

How would you describe workplace courage?

Workplace courage is when you thoughtfully and deliberately build relationships, communicate and make decisions that take into consideration the greater good, the longer term, the values and culture you stand for; and you are willing to stand in the discomfort of people criticising you or attempting to silence you.  It means you do it again and again.  It also means you stand up for those who do not have the power to speak up and have their voice heard in the organisation.

What does courage look like in your workplace?

In my workplace, courage looks like:

  • Asking thoughtful questions about vision, values and strategy alignment of core decisions, communications and interactions
  • Calling unhelpful behaviours towards yourself and others
  • Educating others patiently about the importance of “Say/Do” congruence to build trust
  • Not giving up when you are shut down
  • Being ok to have a different opinion or viewpoint, but showing that you have carefully considered other opinions and viewpoints when you respond

Making sure you take care of yourself and build positive alliances so that you do not become fatigued.

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

When I was a young HR Executive, I was asked to restructure an organisation and make 40% of staff redundant to cut cost.  I refused to start with it until the CEO and his team allowed the new leadership team to develop a clear and defendable strategy that we could structure around and making sure the process was truly competency and values based in selection so that people could not make decisions based on who they liked or wanted to let go because of personal issues.  It was important both from a performance perspective to have a clear strategy and aligned structure, but also from a fairness and good process point of view that we treated people with respect, dignity and support.  It caused a stir and slowed down the process, but led to a great turnaround and the continued success of the organisation.

In Australia as an immigrant, especially in the early years, I kept on getting feedback that I must be careful not to be a tall poppy – I was regularly told by older white men that I talk too much; I was advised not to tell anyone about my past experience and achievements as that would be seen as boasting.

It made me lose quite a lot of confidence and it took me a few years to realise that I had actually lost impact and that I needed to come back into my strengths which was working with courage, calling things and working through difficult and complex issues. I am relieved I did.

From your point of view, to what extent are Australia’s leaders leading with courage?

Every now and then I meet an Australian leader with courage, but unfortunately more often than not, I am told we should not go too fast, that is too much change for people, we should not share certain things with people, managers will not allow change.  I think we have a way to go here.

Speaking with Marianne, I came away energised and inspired.  She demonstrates great strength in her courage and wisdom. 


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