Workplace courage

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Workplace courage: more process than personality, says study involving CU-Boulder

“Acts of courage in the workplace might include admitting a mistake to one’s boss, divulging that a product is faulty during a sales meeting with a client, or ordering a superior commander in the military to step down because of inappropriate handling of a mission.

When faced with danger or wrongdoing in the workplace, people first ask themselves if they’re personally responsible to act, the study found. People’s level of attachment to the victim or level of power in the workplace is often what determines their sense of responsibility to step in.

Once a sense of responsibility is established, people then try to assess the costs of behaving courageously, such as job security and professional relationships. …

Four major types of workplace courage were found in the study including standing up to authority, uncovering mistakes, protecting those in need, and structuring uncertainty, or taking a stance on a problem that has no clear solution and possibly serious repercussions. …

While managers naturally might not value courage in the workplace because it often involves subordinates speaking up, which is uncomfortable, they — and ultimately the organization — should because it’s beneficial, say the researchers.

‘Managers might better grasp the significance of our findings by thinking of courageous workplace behaviors as a type of organizational immune response that identifies and corrects power abuses, errors, ambiguity and needs before they metastasize and threaten the system as a whole’ ….”

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