Courage in Business: How Companies Can Get Their Courage Back –... (2023)

I’m lucky. I have a troop of buddies from my New York City days that, thanks to technology, remain the closest of friends today. I’ll admit that the way we operate, there’s a lot of text chains, a lot of ribbing and a lot of laughs. My buddies and I used to text this one little quip to one another when someone would say something outdated on the chain:

“1985 called. They want their joke back.”

Although this group was talking about personal stuff, if I did have a successful business leaders group texting at the same pace, one thing we surely could be saying is, “2020 is on the line. They want their courage back.”

(Video) Steve Jobs - Courage

There’s a noticeable deficiency of courage in the business world. It is absent from business models, boardrooms, company cultures, and mission statements. Courageous leadership seems to have taken a sabbatical—and many businesses are far worse for it. Most terrifying of all, employees within an organization who aspire to make calculated courageous calls across a company are not getting the opportunity to do so. Their bold ideas are getting squashed along the way or, sadly, they’ve landed in a culture where iterative growth has become the goal throughout the hallways.

Instead of spending the next 1200 words delving deeper about “why” this is our current diagnosis, I’d prefer to simply tap into “how” we can help those willing and courageous leaders help their companies get their courage back. Effective leadership takes courage; Indeed, unlocking courage, when truly embraced and understood, can be your ultimate X factor and competitive advantage.

For my new book, RETURN ON COURAGE, I interviewed many bold and courageous leaders in business, along with some of the bravest people on earth. This included people within Amazon, Apple, Google, Live Nation, Method, Tuft & Needle, Virgin Galactic and Zappos. I can assure you, even as I was writing the book, that I never thought I’d come out the other side with a method that could help companies train their people on how to operationalize bold action so that they could return on courage.

For any willing being or business who aspires to transform their business into, what I call, a Courage Brand®, it comes with a P.R.I.C.E. For one, if it were easy everyone would do it. Two, P.R.I.C.E., as you already surmised, is an acronym that when followed, is the step-by-step plan that can help any company remove the silo that sits between organizational health and courageous business.

Let’s get into the method here:

(Video) How to Build Your Courage | Cindy Solomon | TEDxSonomaCounty


Core values are modern-day rudders of decision-making. Most businesses, of course, have values. Not all are leading through them. Instead, these values are seen memorialized on a lobby wall or collecting dust in an employee manual. Core Values are not eye rolls. They’re how the exceptional roll. Core values help you take a stand in the messy, complication middle of a project. How do you know when to take a stand if you don’t know what you stand for? Other companies are honoring a value of a founder that is out of alignment today with the way people truly work, shop and live. Many businesses are missing the mark as to what the next generation truly values. Most must realize that the next generation won’t buy unless they buy in. With thousands of choices at their fingertips, the differentiator is valuing, declaring, and living your distinct core values. The ask? Go back to the basics and make sure you have the right values driving the behavior of your organization.


You’ve done the hard work to not only lock in your values, but also lead through them. Living the values at your company makes it easier to swiftly audit who is on your raft and, frankly, who isn’t. Leaders either make believers or fake believers. Fake Believers don’t wear a t-shirt around the office that says ‘Fake Believer.’ They just nod, smile and collect a paycheck. The path to creating a courageous culture runs through a leaders ability to create alignment and genuine conviction for the work you’re producing. This might be a good time to admit I have a gripe with the word leadership. Don’t get me wrong—we clearly need courageous leadership now. The problem is poor leaders turn leadership into cheerleadership. They start ra ra’ing to their staff which might work with a portion of your staff, but this behavior is a “no go” with your high producers. Making Believers all starts at the top with what I call your Believership. I prefer “Believership” because it’s not simply the job of one leader. The sole purpose of your Believership is to create Believers in all directions; out of your board, employees, prospects, and customers. There are multiple ways to make a Believer (vs a Fake Believer) which I cover in detail in Return On Courage. One final note on Fake Believers; frustrated Fake Believers are not bad people. They are just in the wrong place. Fake Believers should go work for people they can believe in. Of course, it’s hard to let go of someone who doesn’t fit anymore. When this is the case, ask yourself what is in the absolute best interest of the business.


There’s a famous proverb that fear and courage are brothers—you can’t get to the courageous move without first channeling through fear. Of course, most of us don’t want to think about those daunting challenges that could cripple your business. One of my favorite interviews for my book was with Virgin Galactic Astronaut, Loretta Hidalgo. Loretta shared, “Fear is just a piece of information. It’s evolutionary, created to protect you. Fear is not trying to hurt you.” When was the last time you audited what could take your entire vertical down (industry fear)? Where could your product simply be stronger (product fear)? Is your message and story not as sticky as you hoped for (perception fear)? Proactively smoke out and address your business fears so you can put a plan together to shrink them down vs, the alternative, which is having them take YOU down. As a Seinfeld fan, I’ll admit I enjoy being able to say I’m in the fear shrinkage business. Now is the time to make fear your friend. The businesses that win shrink fear. They turn ‘there’s no time like the present’ into ‘there’s no time but the present’.


Simon Sinek got it right. It’s critical that we do the hard work to get clarity on our why. If I were to add on to this, it’s simply that courageous leaders must make sure they inject a rally cry inside that why. If you want your staff to stick around, you need to find that truthful, purposeful, emotional and differential purpose that makes employees want to come to work everyday. You can make a case that there’s no proof that SpaceX will succeed on fulfilling their “rally cry in their why” purpose of creating human life on another planet. But the people who choose to work for Musk are just as excited to be on a cultural rocket ship as much as working on literally rocket ships. They want that story and are willing to stick around for this all-encompassing worthy calling. We spend a lot of time in marketing talking about call to actions. But a call to action doesn’t galvanize a staff like a call for action.


Without a doubt, the hardest part of it all is taking action. Remember, you’re never going to have every bit of knowledge served up to you on a silver platter to make a call. If you wait too long, you will most likely get past by a competitor. Trust the knowledge you have, which builds inner belief, to ultimately, help you take courageous action. If we’re going to have a conversation about courage we’re really have a conversation about change. Whether change is happening at the innovation level, the culture level or the story level, treat these change opportunities like experiments. Build an Experimental Task Force and, if you’re in an effective leadership role, grant them time, space and a budget to come back with recommendations on these experiments. This means allocating budget for experiments in annual planning (make it a line item). And for those experiments with promise, double down with more resources. Remember, as Marshall Goldsmith warns, what got you here, won’t get you there.

(Video) How To Become More Courageous | Simon Sinek

Being proactive, and following the 5 steps of P.R.I.C.E., can help you design a calculated plan to taking action on. And it might be the difference between being a stasis Coward Brand and a modern, calculated Courage Brand.

Courage in Business: How Companies Can Get Their Courage Back –... (1)

Courage: Knowledge, Faith and Action.

Knowledge, faith, and action are the matchstick, tinder, and wood that work together to form the fire that is courage. The sum of these parts—and it must include all of them—makes up courage. Courage always starts with knowledge. Obtaining knowledge is the true differentiator between doing something careless and embarking on something boldly calculated. It surely will be easier for you to take a risk if you are educated on the topic you need to be courageous about.

Since you’re never going to be able to gather all the available knowledge on a given topic, at some point you have to rely on that belief system of yours we’ll call faith. And once you build that faith, mixed in with just enough acquired knowledge, then it’s time to do something about it. This is when you take action. You need all three—knowledge, faith, and action—for real courage to be at play. Two out of three in any combination is not courageous. Here’s why:

Gathering knowledge, building faith, and then taking no action is paralysis. We’ve all been in situations where we knew what we needed to do but, for some unknown reason, didn’t pull the trigger. “Courage comes to those who act, not to those who think, wait, and wonder,” motivational maverick Grant Cardone says. “The only way to hone this trait is by taking action.”

(Video) Q&A with Amy Porterfield: Confidence and Courage in Business

Having faith and then taking action without proper knowledge is reckless. We’re back to jumping out of a plane without a parachute. Remember, courage always starts with obtaining wisdom. Maya Angelou reminds us to “do the best you can until you know better, then when you know better, do better.”

Gathering knowledge then taking action without having faith is simply too safe. This is status quo. If you don’t feel a bit of nervousness on the inside, in a world saturated with choice, it’s not enough. Acquiring knowledge, building faith, and taking action is courage.

The more you grow your knowledge and the more you grow your faith, the more courageous an action you should take. It’s almost like having an inside scoop on how a stock is going to perform. When knowledge, faith, and action are in place, and when intuition suggests they work together in harmony, invest!

Courage in Business: How Companies Can Get Their Courage Back –... (2)


How do you build courage in business? ›

Developing your courage is key for enhancing your business, leadership, and sales skills. By facing your fears, taking calculated risks, surrounding yourself with supportive people, practicing self-care, and learning from failure, you can build your confidence and resilience and achieve greater success in your career.

How do you encourage courage in the workplace? ›

All photos courtesy of the individual members.
  1. Tell Employees To Make Mistakes. ...
  2. Ask Questions; Don't Give Opinions Or Answers. ...
  3. Figure Out What Matters To Them. ...
  4. Provide A Safety Net. ...
  5. Create Risk, Reward and Support. ...
  6. Lead By Courageous Example. ...
  7. Help People Connect. ...
  8. Remember PEORIA.
Jun 9, 2016

What is an example of courage in business? ›

For example, one form of courage in business is for those in charge to admit that they don't know everything and that they don't need to do everything themselves — having the confidence and bravery to ask for help is a strong display of courage and leadership.

Why is courage important in a company? ›

Developing bravery or courage in the workplace empowers people to take risks, work harder and speak up. Empowering your employees to be brave and show courage makes them more confident. Building confidence will lead to less self-doubt and working harder.

What are 5 ways to show courage? ›

Here are my everyday acts of courage and leadership to practice and celebrate:
  • Saying sorry. ...
  • Be yourself and own it. ...
  • Take responsibility and accountability. ...
  • Keep your commitments and make goals. ...
  • Have a voice and say no. ...
  • Let go and forgive. ...
  • Grow and learn. ...
  • Listen and be present.
Oct 21, 2022

How can I improve my professional courage? ›

You can also demonstrate bravery by being yourself and owning your performance. Be strong in expressing your talents, but also be open in expressing where you don't know it all. Own your mistakes and seek feedback about how to be better. Keep commitments, follow through and avoiding stalling or procrastinating.

What are the three types of workplace courage? ›

There are three common forms of courage in the workplace. Courage to try something, particularly when you have not done it before, courage to trust your colleagues and the courage of voice, to tell the truth no matter how hard it may be for others to hear.

What is the best example of courage at workplace? ›

Examples include accepting a new position, or doing something which will be difficult and time consuming. “Trust” Courage – the courage to resist the temptation to control other people. Examples of trust courage in the workplace include delegation and sharing information. “Tell” Courage – the courage of voice.

What is courage in business? ›

In business, courageous action is really a special kind of calculated risk taking. People who become good leaders have a greater than average willingness to make bold moves, but they strengthen their chances of success—and avoid career suicide—through careful deliberation and preparation.

What is courage as a corporate value? ›

Corporate courage isn't about taking brash decisions, it's about being brave and savvy; using your experience and judgement before acting. Professor Adrian Furnham from the University College London, talks about the four types of corporate courage necessary for successful leadership.

What is corporate courage? ›

In business, courage is an essential trait in any worthy leader. If a leader cannot muster the courage, they will be unable to act and accept the risks to enable a business to achieve its goals.

How do you build courage in a team? ›

  1. Encourage employees to share their voice (courage leadership)
  2. Creating better company culture with transparency and employee communication.
  3. Sharing critical information with employees from every level.
  4. Encourage peer-to-peer engagement and communication.
  5. Authenticity in leadership voice.
May 26, 2022

How does courage lead to success? ›

Courage helps us overcome obstacles.

Along the way, we'll inevitably face obstacles, setbacks, and challenges. But with courage, we can overcome them. Courage gives us the strength and resilience to keep going, even when things get tough. It allows us to stay focused on our goals and persevere through difficult times.

What is an example of courage in leadership? ›

Courageous leaders communicate openly and frequently, even when they lack all the information. They keep the channels of communication open. Leaders with courage do not hide behind jargon and buzzwords; instead, they speak honestly and are not ashamed to admit if they do not know something.

What does it mean to be courageous in business? ›

In business, courageous action is really a special kind of calculated risk taking. People who become good leaders have a greater than average willingness to make bold moves, but they strengthen their chances of success—and avoid career suicide—through careful deliberation and preparation.


1. Alan Mulally of Ford: Leaders Must Serve, with Courage
(Stanford Graduate School of Business)
2. 5. Courage to Lead | THE 5 PRACTICES
(Simon Sinek)
3. Where to find the courage to lead? - Simon Sinek
(Life Lesson Collections)
4. Finding Courage In Hardship
(Redland Hills Church)
5. Being Courageous in Business
6. Courage to Standardize Your Business
(iB4e Coaching)
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