…to take risks for each other – not overpower each other

Leaders with a healthy EnQ look past zero-sums disputes over budget allocations, egos, power and hegemony – and get factions to find the optimal win/win/win solutions, not political compromises and the easy but flawed solutions.

It may seem strange to include trust, altruism and a “giver” (rather than “taker”) orientation at the foundation of courage-building skills. After all, isn’t courage to push bold aspirations supposed to be macho-masculine – and isn’t trust-building soft and feminine?

Studies show, over and over, unless we put “we” – and sometimes put “you” – ahead of “me,” big bold value-creation is elusive. Without the capacity to choose creative abrasion over “don’t-rock-the-boat” appeasement, we settle into risk-averse traps like groupthink, victim thinking, hierarchy dependence, tunnel vision and vying for dominance, not even being aware of how much we traction we are losing.

In problem-solving and resource-optimizing simulations – we teach leaders the courage to push for win/win/win value-optimization. In less than 10 minutes, we can dramatize the moments of truth and risk-averse traps that lead to competitive, rather than win/win/win thinking – and challenge leaders to step up in real-time and change the dynamics. In 360-assessments of EnQ and in real-world scrums and strategy workshops, we can see how leaders apply those lessons to real business dilemmas.

Our advice, if you want a bold culture that brings out the courage in high-potential leaders – don’t put people into key positions until they demonstrate that they’ve mastered the lessons we teach in those simulations and the skills we assess EnQ.

If you’re hiring candidates from outside your enterprise – look for experiences that show an ability to put “we” and “you” ahead of “me.” Like playing a support, not just a star, role in a team sport or in a theatre production. Or serving in a military unit where “leaving no comrade behind” is a badge of honor. Or being part of a diverse cross-functional team where everyone’s creativity (including those in traditionally support roles) produced better breakthroughs than following the elite few who are accustomed to asserting their hegemony.

Listen carefully to what candidates say and do, when you ask questions to explore trust-building and EnQ successes like these:

  • Can you name 4 people whose careers you fundamentally improved? (Look for investments that your candidate made contributing to the career success of someone who wasn’t a higher-up or in a position to reciprocate with quid-pro-quo)
  • Describe a tough negotiation you led that you considered a real victory. What did you do, to make the negotiation successful? (Look for investments that your candidate made contributing to the career success of someone who wasn’t a higher-up or in a position to reciprocate with quid-pro-quo)
  • What would you consider to be your 2 greatest accomplishments? (Listen. Unprompted, does the candidate give credit to others who helped him/her achieve ambitious goals – or do you hear a chorus of “I-me-I-me-I”
  • Tell me about a failure you had and what you learned from it. (Listen – does your candidate accept responsibility and tell you what s/he could have done better – or deflect blame or accountability to someone else?)
  • Tell me about a time when a debate turned into a contest about who had the authority to decide what’s best for the enterprise. How’d you make sure the best thing got done?
  • Tell me about a risk you took empowering someone else who made a mistake that was costly to you and your business objectives and how you corrected the situation. (Listen for care taken to preserve the wrongdoer’s dignity, initiative and prestige – or whether the candidate took over and pushed the wrongdoer out of the spotlight or attacked his/her dignity and integrity.)
  • Have you ever been presented with a proposal by someone who was excited about its potential – but that you could see was flawed? How did you deal with it?
  • Watch – especially if you take the candidate to lunch or dinner – how s/he treats servers like receptionists, wait-people and administrators, including those who interrupt or are intrusive.

If you need an outside perspective measuring your courage to take bold risks and support each other – or a mind-flipping development experience that will build courage to share, not just assert hegemony – we welcome your call. Or your participation when we present 25+ years of insights at the HRPS Executive Forum in April 2019, in Florida USA.


Dr Merom Klein PhD + Dr Louise Yochee Klein PsyD are Principals @ Courage Growth Partners, a leadership and enterprise growth consultancy that equips leaders to break the icy grip of risk-averse traps and PowerUP initiative, inventive action and entrepreneurial spirit to accelerate value-creation. To see if you (or your high-potential leaders) are ready to lift their EnQ, take the free readiness assessment @ CourageGrowthPartners.com/ready/