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How Do We Coach Courage?

Do the thing you are afraid to do, and the death of fear is certain.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I’m just not very good at confrontation, Dave.” This is perhaps the most common statement I hear from leaders who hesitate to deal with difficult issues or difficult people. Like plenty of very good and well-meaning people, Debbie shied away from any sort of confrontation. These people don’t do confrontation well because they don’t do confrontation. We do not get good at anything by avoiding doing it.

Sharing her feelings about conflict was a great step forward for Debbie. It was now my Duty, my moral obligation as her coach, to encourage her to not let fear determine her future as a leader. As leaders, we are going to have opportunities to coach someone to become more vocal and to speak up when they see there is a problem. Maybe they will need to confront us, or maybe they will need to confront others. But in either case, our role as a leader is to help them grow beyond their fears and exercise the Courage to speak up.

Coaching someone to develop Courage is not a common topic in most seminars or books. But our role as a leader is to make each person a better version of themselves. That means we need to encourage that hesitant person to step outside of their comfort zones and speak up.

Here are a few key points when I coach people to speak up:

● It’s okay to be uncomfortable when speaking up. Being uncomfortable means you are probably growing.

● Instead of the negative connotation that goes with confrontation or conflict, think of it as Courageous Communication.

● The best way to get good at something is to practice it. We must practice Courageous Communication in order to get good at Courageous Communication.

Many of us will have an opportunity to coach and encourage somebody to step outside their comfort zones and exercise Courageous Communication. Some of those people could be our co-workers, they could be our subordinates, or they could be our children.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Do the thing you are afraid to do, and the death of fear is certain.”

Courage is something that is developed through practice. We must face our fears and do uncomfortable things in order to not be ruled by those fears. Every time we pass a test of Courage, we set ourselves up to succeed in the next test.

As leaders one of our jobs is to encourage – which means to give courage to others. In this case, our role is to give Courage so that others have Courage. If we coach and encourage those around us to exercise Courage, our impact on their work lives and their home lives will be monumental.

Dig Deep Questions:

● When was the last time you heard someone say they weren’t good at conflict?

● What were they avoiding? And how could you encourage them the next time?


It is important to us for you to have an opportunity to exercise Courage, not only individually, but together as a team. This is why we have created practice cards with scenarios. We invite you to discuss as a team what it means to exercise Courage via our Coaching Cards.

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