Wednesday 4 June 2008

Courage as a Skill

The January 2007 issue of Harvard Business Review has focus on the leadership. One of the articles that I read yesterday was from Kathleen K Reardon from USC Marshall School of Business. In this article, the author has argued that courageous action in business is rarely impulsive, rather it is a special kind of calculated risk taking. She has coined a term, "courage calculation", which has been defined as a method of making success more likely while avoiding rash, unproductive or irrational behavior. Following six discrete processes make up the courage calculation:
  1. Setting primary and secondary goals, which are reasonably within reach, not pie-in-the-sky ambitions.
  2. Determining the importance of achieving them
  3. Tipping the power balance in your favor
  4. Weighing risks against benefits
  5. Selecting the proper time for action, which requires a deep sensitivity to one's surroundings and a great deal of patience.
  6. Developing contingency plans
Let me quote the last para of this article, which very well sums up the entire article.

"In the end, courage in business rests on priorities that serve a personal, an organizational, or a societal philosophy. When this philosophy is buttressed by clear, obtainable primary and secondary goals, an evaluation of their importance, a favorable power base, a careful assessment of risk versus benefits, appropriate timing and well-developed contingency plans, managers are better empowered to make bold moves that serve their organizations, their careers and their own sense of personal worth."

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