The Courage of Your Convictions

Doug Conant (former Fortune 500 CEO and New York Times best-selling author) once shared what he looks for in a candidate during a recruitment process. He explained; “I look for the 4 C’s: competence, character, courage, and collaboration. The best contributors that I have recruited over the years know what they are doing (have competence), do what they say they are going to do (display character), meet challenges head-on (have the courage of their convictions) and delight in working with others for the good of the enterprise (are spirited collaborators). 

This simple, yet powerful capability of having the courage of your convictions is vital for all leaders today, and yet (in my experience) it’s something that is rarely discussed.

Perhaps this is because there is an ‘Unspoken Ground Rule’ in many organisations that as a leader, your personal convictions need to be set aside. The expectation is that you will ‘toe the party line’ and adopt the convictions of the most powerful individuals within the organisation.

In many of the organisations I have worked for, it often felt easier (and safer) to park my own values and convictions at the door every morning and do my best to speak with feigned conviction to the values and convictions of the ‘powers that be’.

Depending on the context, and the level of congruence between my own convictions and the convictions of ‘the powers that be’, my experiences of ‘toeing the party line’ ranged from embarrassing to excruciating.

Perhaps the collective belief is that this sort of feigned, forced alignment is conducive to higher level of performance. The irony is that, it is actually corrosive to trust, engagement, well-being and ultimately performance.

One of the best things about having a portfolio career and working with multiple clients on my terms is that I can speak freely about my personal convictions no matter how ‘controversial’ they are. I no longer experience a low-level fear that someone from the Corporate Affairs Department is going to give me a call and suggest that I delete or modify a post.

Over the years, I have come to better understand the significant hidden costs of feigned congruence. And so, today I choose to work with organisations and leaders I feel genuinely aligned with.

Here are the 10 convictions that I draw the most courage from on a day-to-day basis:

I believe that all humans are good at their core and that we all have deep wells of untapped potential inside of us.

I believe that human potential is the most over-looked sources of value in organisations today and that we urgently need to co-create organisations that powerfully activate human potential if we are to survive as a species. 

I believe that well-being is the foundation of courageous, creative, compassionate leadership – and sustained performance.

I believe that we can create harmony between all our big loves – love for ourselves, love for others and love for our work.

I believe that our workplaces have the opportunity (and the responsibility) to become sources significant sources of well-being and sustainable prosperity.

I believe that when we are at our best , work feels like productive play.

I believe that to lead is to serve.

I believe that unless you genuinely care deeply about those you work with – you don’t deserve to be a leader.

I believe that unless you feel deeply inspired by your work, you can’t be an inspiring leader.

I believe that in a world that pushed us to conform, comply and compromise, the practice of self-fidelity is essential.

Self-Fidelity Practice to Play With This Week

You can’t draw courage from your convictions unless you are clear on what they are.

Here are four simple questions that I invite you to reflect upon this week. These questions will guide you clarify your convictions, so that you can begin to intentionally draw courage from them.

QUESTION 1: What do I believe? (try to get a list of at least 20 beliefs)

QUESTION 2: Of this list, what are my most strongly-held convictions?

QUESTION 3: How might I intentionally draw on these convictions as a real source of courage day-to-day?

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