Thursday, November 5, 2015

Brave Leadership

Guest post from Darrin Murriner:

Most people would agree that good leaders are brave leaders. But our definition of brave may vary widely. For some bravery could mean facing a tough personnel decision or making investment decisions to enter a new market.

And while those decisions can often be brave, I contend that the highest form of bravery in an organizational context is keeping at bay the opposite of bravery; fear.

In our business organizations fear has a growing influence. This can be seen in our capital allocation decisions, how we react to competitors and how engaged our employees are in the mission of the organization that you are leading.

To be a truly great leader you must tackle the three primary areas that fear can influence your organization and prevent your business from realizing increased returns and long-term value creation.

 1. The Cultural Core. I represent this strong cultural core through several key elements including the development of trust, breaking through organizational hierarchies, being willing to take risks or even fail, finding employees that are the right cultural fit and supporting their individuality, and finally, by developing great communication. Building a strong core lays the foundation for the next two areas.

2. External Factors. It is important to avoid the pull to react to the competition, regulation and risk & control functions, but rather, focus on getting out in front of these three areas. This requires staying close to the customer and anticipating where the market is going. You can limit the influence these factors have by leaning into the cultural core.

3. Improve Decision Making. Good decision making from a place of strength in your organizational identity keeps you from getting distracted by concerns around possible legal land mines or the possibility of negative media exposure. Good decision making allows the brave leader to go from good to great.

I would love to go into each of these areas in more detail, but this is a blog post and I spent eleven chapters on these in my book, Corporate Bravery.

But the reason why these factors matter is because fear has a way of creeping into your culture little by little through small decisions that are made every day by managers with influence within your organization.

That may seem overwhelming since leaders often struggle with the balance between micromanaging the details and supporting and empowering their managers towards improved performance. But it is achievable, and it starts with great leadership.

For that reason, the selection process for managers must be rigorous and ensure the full alignment of organizational values, management competencies and performance management to protect the cultural core from trending negatively over time.

Too often leaders are derailed by fears that influence their decisions and create cracks for fear to root itself in the cultural fabric of their organization. It can start out small but will eventually have an outsized influence on every area of business performance. Great leadership values bravery over fear and fights to protect culture from fear’s polluting influence.

About the author:
To learn more about Darrin Murriner or this topic you can read more at If you are interested in reading Corporate Bravery, the book is available on Amazon ( & iTunes.

1 comment:

Nick Hughes said...

Brave leadership does not have to be reckless. Often it is informed decision-making by considering the relevant options. Sometimes leaders think they are being bold / brave but sometimes they have not truly thought about the impact of their decisions on the wider organisation. So it is about striking a balance.