Learn to Lead with Courage

courage versus fear
Ryan Berman, author of the new book RETURN ON COURAGE, is the Founder of Courageous, a creative consultancy that develops Courage Brands®. For his book, Berman spent three years shadowing top leaders to understand how they accomplish their goals. He found that the best leaders make sure that courage is a key component of their organization’s culture. The excerpt below will help you build an organization in which courage thrives.


Return on Courage

Most businesses are properly focused on return on investment. Courage Brands have a high Return on Courage. How can you recognize when your brand is moving down the right path to delivering a Return on Courage?



1. COMMUNICATION: Lead with your company’s values

By doing the hard work of setting up your Central Courage System, you’re on your way to eliminating the fragmented gap that sits between organizational health and courageous business.

All decisions can now be made the right way—through your core values. Remember, core values are not eye rolls. They are how the exceptional roll. Knowing your values and communicating them takes the guessing game out of what matters most to your business. Activated properly, your values become your corporate cadence that can bring calm and alignment to your employees.

Remember, repeating makes Believers. The same holds true when you stay authentic to your values and use them as decision-making filters.



2. CONVICTION: Make internal Believers

When you lead with your values, you have the opportunity to make a Believer. When you make internal Believers, you make a culture. When you have a culture crafted out of your values and belief system, you build a loyal company willing to go the distance on your behalf. This is the idea of conviction. How you operate and communicate is the driving force behind making Believers or making Fake Believers. It has never been more desired by a next generation workforce than it is now.

In less than a decade, 75 percent of your workforce will be Millennials. This generation aspires to work at unique, innovative, and purpose-driven companies. They’ll stick around if they believe. Create an authentic, empowering, and purpose-driven work environment that Believers can rally behind.



3. CLARITY: Proactively know your business fears

If worrying about what could cause your business to fail is keeping you up at night, then it’s time to audit your business fears. Know-how is the key to it all: the ability to smoke out and discover business fears that have previously stayed hidden. Gaining clarity in regards to these tumultuous hurdles is half the battle. Your team should be fully aware of the problems in your industry, your brand, and your product that you are relentlessly trying to combat. Remember, either you drive change or change could destroy you.

Once you have total awareness of these fears, you can begin to shrink them down, eliminate noise, and stay focused on the initiatives that matter most. This is clarity at work.



4. CAUSE: Ignite external advocates

When your message courageously stands for something meaningful, you unlock passionate external Believers who will advocate on your behalf—everywhere they go—so long as you stay true, purposeful, and consistent to the cause.

Great causes have a clear enemy. So find a big, juicy enemy to take down, such as greed, injustice, or repression. Remember, to inject a rally cry in your why and consider creating a call for action—which always tops a call to action—to move the cause forward.

You now know how to create an authentic, aspirational, and amazing message. You now understand how to share this message through narrowcasting and promoters. When you do, thanks to passionate external Believers, unlimited earned media opportunities are possible.



5. CHANGE: Your business evolves—it avoids stasis or, worse, death

Is your primary business goal to sustain relevance? Is it to change and transform your business as you grow? Both goals set out to increase the preference for your business by adding meaningful new messages or modern core competencies to the organization. By doing either, you have done what less than half of Fortune 500 businesses have been able to do in the past 15 years—survive.

Becoming a Courage Brand does not guarantee success. But remaining stagnant and working solely for incremental gains are not strategies for surviving the rough, patchy, unpredictable business waters of the next decade.

That’s the thing about courageous companies. Establishing your Central Courage System is simply courageous preparation. When you follow the steps of P.R.I.C.E., when you play offense and drive change, you put yourself in a good position to evolve, thrive, and win.

When courageous business decisions are successfully made, it’s like traffic opening up on a five-lane highway. is allows companies to stay proactive, not just be protective.

The key word here is success. With triumph—small and big—the floodgates of possibility start to present themselves, and your staff will thrive off that opportunistic energy.

When courage works at the workplace, it becomes easier to choose courage in the office again and again. It contagiously spreads all across your team, office, and culture.

Courage, in fact, breeds courage.

With it, corporate confidence grows and morale balloons.

Conversely, with failure, for many, fear breeds fear. When this hap- pens, you can feel a negative dissenting poison permeating through the company’s culture.

Activating courage in a healthy workplace is like learning how to ride a bike. At first, it may feel daunting. You know there will be lots of scrapes and bruises. But once your balance stabilizes and you get those wheels moving, momentum ensues, and it’s hard to go back to anything else.


For more information, see RETURN ON COURAGE: A Business Playbook For Courageous Change.


Excerpted with permission from RETURN ON COURAGE: A Business Playbook For Courageous Change by Ryan Berman. All rights reserved


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