Building a Courageous Work Culture: Why it Matters

Sometimes, the biggest threat to an organization isn’t the most visible one. Emotions drive behavior, not logic. One of the most potent emotions is fear. As a result, one of the most significant challenges and responsibilities of leaders – at every level – is combatting fear and fostering courage. In themselves, in others, and across their entire organization.

 

 

Our Guest:  Karin Hurt, CEO, Let’s Grow Leaders

On the latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Karin Hurt, CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders; a training firm focused on human-centered leadership development. They help leaders resolve workplace ambiguity to drive innovation, productivity, and revenue without burning out employees. 

Mental health and wellness in the workplace has been a trending topic for several months. Psychological Safety sits at the core –  defined as “the belief that one can speak up without the risk of punishment or humiliation.” 

After working with both leaders and supervisory level employees at the same companies, it became clear to Karin that there was a lack of Psychological Safety in the workplace. As a result, Let’s Grow Leaders partnered with the University of North Colorado for a research study to understand when employees were holding back ideas, what kind of ideas they were holding back, and what was preventing them from speaking up.

When asked more about what inspired the study on Psychological Safety and innovation, Karin had this to say:

“We were working with leaders across a variety of industries all around the world, and we were having conversations at the senior-most levels of these organizations. And we were hearing things like, Why don’t more people share their ideas? Why don’t people speak up? And then we would be doing training at the supervisor level of these same organizations. And we would hear things like, No one wants my ideas. Nothing ever happens anyway so why bother? And we thought, are you working for the same company?”

Why Employees Don’t Speak Up?

It’s important that leaders are trained to be exceptional listeners. It’s also important for leaders to create an environment of trust. Why do employees hold back? Karin further explains:

“When we dug underneath and found out why they were holding back these ideas, 50% said nothing will ever happen anyway. 49% said they weren’t regularly asked for their ideas. 67% said my manager operates around the notion of this is the way we’ve always done it. 40% said they lacked the confidence to share. And this one was really the most surprising. 56% said they don’t share ideas because they’re afraid they won’t get the credit.”

Steps to Building a Courageous Culture

An employee’s lack of confidence can stem from many experiences and roles. The result – trust and confidence barriers. As a leader, steps can be taken to break through these barriers:

“So it starts with navigating the narrative. And that is really getting very clear about how you feel about speaking up at work. And then, it’s creating clarity that you really do want people’s ideas. Third, cultivate curiosity, which is where you proactively go out and ask people for their ideas.

It’s not enough to ask. Karin further explains:

“So we talk about responding with gratitude, thanking people for their ideas, information, telling them what’s going to happen next or not happen next and why.”

Building an infrastructure of courage starts from the top down. Don’t just change the narrative; live it. 

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends. To learn more about building a courageous culture at work, contact Karin Hurt on LinkedIn.