courageous cultures - we are each other's destiny

We Are Each Other’s Destiny

When Karin and I set out to write Courageous Cultures, we obviously had no idea how the world was about to change. It was clear that the nature of work was shifting and that to stay competitive, businesses would need every person to solve problems, contribute productive ideas, and improve life for their customers.

But if the pandemic can remind us of anything, it’s that our future is one we will build together. Our interconnectedness fills the headlines every morning.

There is no decency or sense in honoring one thing, or a few things and then closing the list. The pine tree, the leopard, the Platte River, and ourselves-we are at risk together, or we are on our way to a sustainable world together. We are each other’s destiny.

-Mary Oliver

We are at risk together—or on our way together.

That’s true for your team, but it’s also true beyond your work. With every interaction and every decision, you’re building the future.

And the only way to build a future that will work for everyone is to include every voice.

When we talk about a courageous culture, we mean one in which everyone speaks up to solve problems, improve the customer and employee experience, and consistently contributes their best thinking.

The paradox of a courageous culture is that it requires less courage from individuals. When speaking up is just “what we do,” it doesn’t feel as risky.

But getting there can take quite a bit of courage. Courageous cultures require leaders to get vulnerable, to listen deeply, and to show the courage they’ll ask of their teams.

As you consider the road ahead, we invite you to ask your team the courageous questions that risk genuine answers. Listen deeply to their responses. Dare to look beyond the comfortable answers – you won’t find the future there.

We need your leadership. And we need your team’s wisdom. Because, if it wasn’t clear enough before this: we are each other’s destiny.

You can download a FREE chapter of our new book Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates here.

Inspiring Innovation Cover

Inspiring Innovation: How to Foster a Courageous Culture (A Whitepaper)

Is your team speaking up to share ideas, best practices, and advocate for your customers?

  • “Why am I the only one who finds these issues? What’s wrong with my managers? Why can’t they see this stuff and fix it?”
  • “We’ve got so many ways for people to submit their ideas, why don’t more people use them?”
  • “My direct reports are always in the field talking to employees, but all we get is a bunch of fluff.”

Have you ever found yourself or another leader asking these questions? We hear these frustrations from executives all the time.

What’s really interesting?

When you talk to the front-line employees in these same organizations, you’ll often hear statements like:

  • “The only way to get the customer what they need is to use this workaround. I’ve been doing it for years, which is why my customers love me. It’s not standard procedure, though, so I keep my head down and hope my boss doesn’t notice.”
  • “They say they want our ideas, but nothing ever changes. I’ve stopped bothering.”
  • “Whenever a big wig from HQ comes to do a focus group, my boss warns us to only talk about the good stuff so we don’t look like we’re complaining.”

courageous cultures lightbulb breaking through wall

Overcoming the Disconnect

This disconnect stifles innovation, problem-solving, and delivering breakthrough results for your customers. Your success depends on quickly incorporating the best ideas from across your business, on understanding what’s not working and how to make it better.

But what if you never hear what’s working well and what’s broken?

For many companies, it’s not senior leaders who fear making the big “go, no go” choices that stifle progress, but the exponential effect of thousands of small opportunities missed because people didn’t speak up when they saw something stupid or didn’t share their idea.

The best practices languish, unshared and unspoken. Why?

Because people are often discouraged from saying the wrong thing and not rewarded for saying the right thing—so they say nothing. The consequences can be dire: customers leave, problems multiply like the heads of a hydra, and employees lose heart.

The tragic truth is that most of the time, leaders think they’re creating an open environment that encourages employees to speak up, and are surprised when they learn that employees hold back. Employees have ideas and want to be heard. Leadership wants to hear them.

Too often, however, employees and leaders both feel that no one cares about making things better.

Welcome to the World of Courageous Cultures

Instead of safe silence and frustrated leaders, what if you had a courageous culture? A culture where:

  • Teams at every level of your business continually ask, “How can we make this better?”
  • Leaders have the courage to ask what’s not working and really listen.
  • Everyone is confident to raise their hand on behalf of the customer and put purpose above politics.

What does it mean to have a courageous culture?

Inspiring Innovation: Fostering a Courageous Culture of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers and Customer Advocates

Leading Courageous CulturesWe’re just completed extensive research on speaking up and what drives or prevents courageous innovation and problem-solving.

While we’re busy writing the book which Harper Collins will publish in July 2020, we thought you might like a sneak preview. So we’ve put together this white paper for you.

You can download it here.

We’ve already been speaking extensively on this topic both in the US and internationally.

We would love to talk with you about building a Courageous Culture in your organization or how to be part of our Courageous Cultures book tour next Summer.

For more information, email us at or call us at 443.750.1249.

Courageous Cultures in the News

Entrepreneur: How Your Leadership Style Could be Stifling Innovation and Problem-Solving at Your Company

TD Magazine: To Be Heard

How to Stop Wasting People’s Courage

Talent Timeout: Sharing Your Hidden Talents

He trembled a bit as he approached the microphone. His thoughts crystalized into a profound truth.

Just a statement. He had no ask. He didn’t elaborate on such talents. He sat down.

I felt tears well up for this man about whom I knew so little. Sure his story is complex. Whose story isn’t?

“A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage”
~Sydney Smith

Later I asked him for more. The man indeed has many talents. His light was shining under a bushel, and he was speaking up.

I have a been unemployed for several years. I have many talents. I have much to offer this community.

How many times have you felt that way?

  • “Why can’t they see my gifts?”
  • “Why wasn’t I asked?”
  • “I have more to give”
  • “…”

Who’s holding you back? You or they? When’s the last time you picked up a “microphone” and shared what you have to offer?

Talent Timeout

Today, I ask each of us to pause and consider.

  • What are your many talents?
  • Which 3 talents do you offer up the most?
  • Which 3 stay hidden away?
  • Why?

What would be different if you spoke them into a microphone for your community to hear?