Tip 21: Courage Not Conformity

May 13, 2009 -- Sal Silvester

I have spoken a lot in recent blog posts about courage and how it is such an important leadership characteristic. But courage is also an important team member characteristic.

Earl Nightengale once said that, "The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice...it's conformity."

Conformity as a word means action in accord with prevailing social standards, attitudes, practices, etc. As a definition, conformity sounds like it would be a good team member trait. But when people are always thinking alike, no one is thinking at all.

Courage, on the other hand, means boldness or braveness. In reference to a team environment, courage means having the boldness and braveness to do the right things - especially when the right things are hard to do.

It takes courage to give people direct feedback. It takes courage to have difficult discussions about performance. It takes courage to look forward in times of change, to deal with conflict head-on (instead of letting it simmer beneath the surface), and to share an opposing view point during a meeting where everyone else is thinking alike.

Are you courageous or a conformist?

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