Organizational Excellence

Engage. Simplify. Enable the Mission

Choosing Everyday Courage: Speaking Up and Standing Out Competently at Work

Jim Detert
Darden Associate Dean for Executive Degree Programs and Leadership Initiatives

In this session, we’ll talk about how to be competently courageous – that is, how to create positive change at work without putting oneself at undue risk. Competent courage isn’t rooted primarily in something innate that people either do or don’t have or can or can’t do. It reflects attitudes and behaviors that can be learned and cultivated. We’ll talk about how competently courageous people create the right conditions for action by establishing a strong internal reputation and by maximizing their financial and psychological independence; how they carefully choose their battles, discerning whether a given opportunity to act makes sense in light of their values, the timing, and whether it’s likely to aid or hinder their broader objectives; how they maximize the odds of in-the-moment success by managing the messaging and emotions in the way great change agents do; and, how they follow up to preserve relationships, maximize others’ commitment to next steps, and generate persistence and optimism. Participants will be encouraged to think about the specific types of speaking up and standing out they’d like to do more of, and how to take specific steps to increase their capacity for doing so skillfully.

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