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Competent Courage for Change

In “Cultivating Everyday Courage” in the Harvard Business Review, James Detert suggests that ‘competently courageous’ people- who most often successfully effect positive change in organizations- are those who  ”create the right conditions for action by establishing a strong internal reputation and by improving their fallback options in case things go poorly; they carefully choose their battles, discerning whether a given opportunity to act makes sense in light of their values, the timing, and their broader objectives; they maximize the odds of in-the-moment success by managing the messaging and emotions; and they follow up to preserve relationships and marshal commitment.”

The article, while focused on effecting change in work places, reminded me of a number of things pertinent to our School.

First, it highlighted the importance of our mission to develop outstanding women who are intellectually curious, courageous and compassionate. Nurturing courage is an important task for the School and is done in both small and large ways for our girls. Our girls are challenged in their learning to try new things, to challenge themselves and, increasingly as they grow older, to learn to deal with ambiguity. While learning this, they are also encouraged to reflect on how they feel and how they can adapt and approach complexity with increasing confidence.

Second, the article was a good reminder of how courageous conversations bring about effective, thoughtful and sustainable change within an organization. As part of their education, our girls must see examples of these sorts of conversations between the adults in their lives.

As home and school work together to guide our girls and create the best environment in which to do so, we must be sure that we, too, are competently courageous so that we model what it is we wish for our girls.

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