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What are you really asking others when you challenge them to be more courageous?

Courage, a word that comes up time and time again when we do our deep dive interviews with new corporate clients that are keen to under our Kina-Iya leadership development program. 

In organizations that we speak to today, courage is typically associated with speaking up, making tough calls, taking accountability, lead and step up, challenge, debate ,engaging in honest and direct conversations and healthy conflict.  Leaders in organization long for their people AND for themselves to show up in braver ways.  

This topic of courage is close to my heart, there are so many intricate, sensitive and liberating dimensions to it, helping people take courageous actions and show up with more authentic presence. 

While in this article I will be looking at it in the context of leadership, all the concepts can be directly applied  and equally relevant to home and community environments as well. 

So, when asking someone to BE COURAGEOUS – what does this really mean? 

Let’s quickly look into this concept of Courage, it’s defined broadly as the choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty or intimidation (Wikipedia). The origin of the word comes from the Latin word Cor, which means heart and in its original definition it meant: “To speak one’s mind by telling all of one’s heart” (Dr. Brown). 

In the research by Dr. Brené Brown, an American professor who spent decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, connection and empathy, it was revealed that: 

There is no courage without vulnerability.

Vulnerability is uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure (Dr. Brown). Facing situations where the outcome is uncertain, or opening ourselves up to being hurt, to fail and to stumble. 

So actually when leaders in our leadership development program long for their people and themselves to be more courageous we are ultimately asking people – to be more VULNERABLE

The often overlooked ingredient to facilitating courageous spaces.  

That is a big ask. 

What does this mean for leaders?

In my one-on-one coaching journeys with leaders, this topic of courage and vulnerability comes up more often than not. Some of the areas and questions we often explore together and that may be useful to kick-off your thinking and exploration as you are reading this are: 

First and foremost GET HONEST with ourselves: 

  • Where in my leadership would I like to show up more courageously?
  • How comfortable am I with being vulnerable myself?
  • What needs my attention to grow my comfort level?

Secondly, TAKE STOCK:

  • Where would I like my team to show up more courageously? 
  • What am I already doing that facilitates vulnerable and courageous conversations and actions in that space? 
  • What is missing? 


  • What is ONE way in which I, as a leader, can SHOW UP more vulnerable and courageous with my team?
  • What is ONE action I can do to foster a more courageous space for my team? 

I am acutely aware that this topic is not an easy one to tackle, let’s face it, more often than not, just the thought of “having to be vulnerable” is scary and triggers us to put our guard up quickly! 

However, in order to ignite more courage, we need to hold space for BOTH courage AND vulnerability in our work environment. We need to direct our attention to creating and facilitating a space that FEELS safe and allows for vulnerability to emerge.  

Environments where people  ask for what they need, speak their truth, own their mistakes, set clear expectations and reach out for support when needed. 

Imagine if we were able to create those liberating workspaces all around us – what would be possible? 

Get in touch: 

To kick of your journey on creating braver leaders and more courageous and safe spaces for vulnerability and connection, get in touch with us and check out our Kina-Iya leadership training and coaching program. 

If you want to journey and rumble with your own vulnerability and courage work with our Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator-Life Coach in our team.