Courageous Leadership…

Courageous and authentic leadership. These are two key words that are coming up for me as I reflect on what I want to share with you with respect to last week’s Prism Award presentations.

In my previous post, I promised that I’d follow-up and post some of the lessons learned from the winning companies. Here’s my first go at this…there’s lots to tell but I’ll start with just a couple points and perhaps share more another time.

1) Core Values at the heart of success and engagement: at least three of the Prism winning organizations talked about how their work began with an exploration of their personal and/or organization’s core values. Core values -are generally words or themes (sometimes phrases) that capture an individual’s or company’s “DNA”. It’s what you stand for; what you deeply belief in –and ultimately should be aligned with your behaviours, attitudes, actions. It’s the essence of one’s character’. We all have our own unique set of core values fundamental to who we are. We’re at our best and tend to experience more fulfillment when we express these values in our day-to-day actions and ‘being’. And so when an individual leads and performs from their core values – they are more authentic.

Tribute Communities, Impact Communications, National Ovarian Cancer Foundation — the first three presentations — all relayed a host of goals, objectives, challenges, etc. Each, however, started with articulating their core values. Then they brought them forward into action. It was the first time I’ve heard so many of the Prism winners (I’ve been to at least 4 years of these events) speak to this theme. So this year, it was clear that the winners were showcasing ‘authentic leadership’ in full force!

2) Investing in the process — in unknown territory….takes courage. Some of the winning clients conceded in their presentations that at first they were a bit reticent about the investment of some of the coaching initiatives (e.g. the time away from ‘actual work’, the cost, etc.). Also, the coaching work initially was something that was a bit unknown to them…..outside of their comfort zone…i.e. what’s this thing called coaching? Whaddya mean we’re going to discover our values then put them to work?! I have so much work to do – can afford this time and get involved in something like this??

Well – fast forward — the winners were all unequivocal in their testaments that it was the “best time spent”. The results in terms of increased efficiency, better teamwork, more engaged stakeholders paid off in spades. Elizabeth Ross, head of NOCA (the not-for-profit winner) said “I wondered what my donors would think of me spending all this time on (discovering core values, etc.).” Well, she said she now knows it was the best thing she could do for the organization.  They work smarter….and are more compassionate (one of their core values) and they and their constituents are the better for it. 

In one case (Sysco), the client had to really sell the coaching program internally. It was a very ambitious program and very much ‘outside of the box’ in terms of typical corporate training in that organization. He took a huge chance. And he took a huge stand because he believed in the program. That took courage.  And the results stood  him well. He’s now received the go-ahead to do another year…with even more funding.

All these leaders (from Tribute, Impact Communications, NOCA, Sysco) took a chance on this ‘fairly new thing called coaching’. The work was outside of their usual ‘work’. The conversations were different. They were all courageous. And the work allowed for more authentic, reflective, powerful leadership. And it lead to better performance, improved teamwork and more inspired leadership.

….that’s powerful. They are the leaders….still a minority among Canadian employers, they are the leaders showcasing how to bring the best out of their people…..

… and there’s much more…but we’ll leave that for another day.

Till next time,



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