COURAGE Looks Good on You
This month is Women's History Month ~ a month dedicated to celebrate us and all that has been accomplished by women so far. Yet, there is much more we can do to hold each other up. Beginning on International Women's Day, March 8th, women everywhere accepted this year's theme is to #choosetochallenge. That means advocating for yourself and others and having the courage to speak up and be heard. Be sure to share this edition with other women and men.
Dear Fellow Women: Own the Difference Your Difference Makes

Author Margie Warrell,in a recent Forbes Magazine article, Brave Women Rising Why We Need More Women Leading with Courage said, "This crisis holds a unique opportunity for dismantling some of the traditional barriers that have kept women from rising to top tables. Seizing them will require courage. Change always does." The world needs more women stepping into their power and Warrell defines how to be courageous in
5 ways:

  • Don't Wait for Confidence
  • Dare to See Yourself as a Leader
  • Dial Up Your Daring
  • Lean Toward Risk
  • Own the Difference Your Difference Makes
Your life unfolds in proportion to your courage. Rachel Adams
Women Helping Women - The Power of the Room
Just as it happens in a WOMEN Unlimited room of program participants, we can learn from one another and help each other grow. Recently, we asked two graduates of The FEW program, Rekha Agrawal, Operating Partner at Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners Inc., and Tamara Martensen, Vice President, Consumer Manufacturing Bridgestone Americas, Inc., to share their lessons learned about finding and using their courage.
At what point in your career did you become aware that you needed to act with courage?
Tamara: My first job out of college was as a Mfg. Supervisor in a steel fabrication area in a large factory.   I found myself in situations that I probably should have been intimidated, but I just focused on doing my job the very best that I could, asking questions, and trying to make a difference. I put my focus on what was in front of me, not what surrounded me, and worked hard to ensure I did not let anyone down – those on my team or those I reported to. As I look back, I suppose I was mustering up courage daily for one reason or another.
Rekha: “I realized early on that other people showed up very differently to similar situations than I did. When I was tormenting myself on something, I realized that others were not internalizing external setbacks the way I was, and that that was a better way of handling it. So, I focused on learning from that.”
What did you have to overcome (i.e., fear of what others would think, failure) in order to act on your courage?
Tamara: I didn’t recognize it at the time but staying focused on my mission – to make a difference – helped me block out any fear that may have inhibited my actions. I guess I believed in myself enough to not question whether I could be successful in whatever job I had. If someone was going to give me a chance in a new role, I focused completely on what was directly in front of me.
Rekha: I needed to develop a tactical support structure of people who could help me. I needed to learn to take the long view in my career and look past what I feared. And finally, I needed to give myself ‘grace’ – knowing that mistakes would happen along the way.
Who helped you find your strength?
Tamara: I had a mentor early in my career who modeled the kind of servant leader I didn’t know at the time that I was striving to be. He was a sounding board for ideas, jumped in to help when I needed it, and gave me positive encouragement when times got tough. He fostered an environment where taking risks was okay.
Rekha: I found my strength by being around a lot of great leaders. I realized that they were constantly learning and curious.
What would you tell your younger self about operating with courage?
Tamara: Looking back, I can recall so many times that I was unbelievably nervous about something I was about to do…. a one-on-one performance discussion, a speech in front of a large audience, a conversation with union leadership. There were so many situations that I needed to muster courage to tackle. In most of those situations I kept any fear I may have been feeling to myself – not reaching out – keeping my doubts to myself. I would tell my younger self to find a confidant to talk with. Be brave enough to lean on someone for advice during challenging times. 
Rekha: First, realize that no one is worried about you. Second, be fearless about asking questions. Perfectionism doesn’t serve anyone. Embrace the discomfort. Get comfortable being uncomfortable because that’s where you grow.
Any other advice that you’d like to share with our readers?
Tamara: I recognize how important it is to help the next generation of employees and leaders. Being transparent and acknowledging what I dealt with can help others learn through my stories, failures and successes.
Rekha: Unpack how you are feeling about acting with courage: Embrace the feeling, use your support system and demonstrate vulnerability. Also, know that you don’t need to self-disclose your uncertainty with everyone.

Courage Comes in Many Forms.
It isn't just about developing your courage. Help others find theirs.

Try Courage
Because of the heightened scrutiny that comes with stepping up to challenges, many people remain comfortable in the current situation. To help them develop and build TRY Courage instead:

Jump first. Good leaders and managers are good role models. As the founder of every company knows, you can’t reap unless you leap! The best way to infuse the workforce with the will to try is for leaders to jump first.
Play to their strengths. Build on employees’ existing capabilities and strengths when assigning risky new tasks or projects. It’s easier to be courageous when you bring some experience to the table.
Highlight the danger in playing it safe. For employees, job security comes from expanding capabilities, gaining new experiences, and attempting new tasks—which employees won’t get if they’re constantly playing it safe. Highlight that safety is best secured by taking calculated risks instead of hanging on the sidelines.

Trust Courage
As much as you want your employees to become leaders themselves, you also want them to follow you and your directives. To do that, they have to trust you. They have to know they can rely on your words and actions. When workers have ample TRUST Courage, they’re receptive to your directions, open to your feedback, and mature in how they handle your criticisms. Their TRUST Courage is strengthened when you honor them in the same way.
To help develop and build TRUST Courage:
Trust first. It’s tempting for people to turn trust into a quid pro quo: I will give you trust after you give me trust. But these strategies almost always produce a stalemate, with no one trusting anyone. Trust first—period.
Build trust from the get-go. It’s been said that there’s no such thing as “instant trust.” I disagree. Under the right conditions, trust can be gained surprisingly quickly. From the get-go, establish the ground rules in keeping confidences, as well as your expectations regarding the professionalism with which workers communicate with each another.
Learn what employees value. People trust each other when they’re willing to become vulnerable. Knowing coworkers’ values, hopes, and fears helps you to understand their deepest motivations and intentions. Instead of having people “prove” their trustworthiness to you, spend time learning about who they are and what they value.

Tell Courage
Sure, I can hear you thinking, “What’s hard about speaking your mind?” The truth is that workers can and do get fired for being too blunt and undiplomatic. Facing this, many choose the “safer” approach of withholding their opinions and sugarcoating their words so that they sound more agreeable. However, when employees have enough courage to assert their opinions candidly, to sell their ideas with tenacity, or even to give feedback constructively, they become more confident people. Managers’ jobs become easier, and teamwork improves. How do you help workers develop this kind of TELL Courage?
Take action. Few things are as frustrating as mustering up the courage to tell your bosses something only to have it fall on deaf ears. When appropriate and feasible, honor people’s TELL Courage by taking action on what they say.

Bill Treasurer is a workplace expert, a courage pioneer, and the author of Courage Goes to Work: How to Build Backbones, Boost Performance, and Get Results. Read his full article in HR Daily Advisor.

Save the Date!

April 30th, 12 Noon ET
The WUN Webinar

The Story You Tell Yourself

Be careful how you talk to yourself because often YOU are listening!
Learn to convert your inner-critic to a kinder, more supportive ally. Join us to learn new ways of thinking for greater results - at work and in life outside of it! Our presenter, Sydney Davis, will bring her dynamic energy and background in therapy and coaching to this engaging session!