According to a recent Financial Post report, “The most common reason people quit their US$200,000 tech jobs” isn’t because they were offered more money or better perks elsewhere. It’s because the job they are leaving isn’t fun – or because it’s unpleasant to see coworkers pushed hard, ridiculed or treated unfairly when difficulties or complications arise, as they inevitably do when innovators are breaking new ground. Click here to read the Financial Post article.
For more than two decades, as business psychologists, we’ve advised investors that there’s a huge difference between innovation leaders who have Courage to charge forward with no fear and push others into line – and leaders who build courage to make it fun for $US200K talent to rally behind a shared purpose, feel appreciated and do whatever it takes to deliver breakthrough results.
We’ve advised investors (and boards) how to spot build-Courage innovation leaders and we’ve advised executive teams how to develop a build-Courage culture. Build-Courage leaders instill pride, urgency and accountability, so they can switch to an external-facing role and delegate internal jobs that are essential to bootstrap growth. Build-Courage leaders engender trust to forge win/win/win alliances. They engage diverse perspectives to solve complex problems and meet exacting standards, rather than suppress creative brainpower or rationalize mistakes. They build a strong team around them. All of which accelerates and multiplies value-creation.
We’ve also advised investors (and boards) how to mitigate the risks and liabilities that come with have-Courage leaders – when egos, power needs, magical thinking, overconfidence and impatience don’t make it fun or respectful for others, with diverse skills and perspectives, to step up, speak out, honker down and feel they are making a meaningful contribution. Have-Courage leaders leave no room in plans for complications to occur – and then get angry, impatient, sarcastic when things don’t go according to plan. Which makes people defensive or conflict-avoidant, rather than creative and resourceful, when they see problems that others have missed.
Have-Courage leaders often are masters at “how to pitch.” Investors, boards and hiring managers often are impressed by their bravado, optimism, charisma, energy, smoothness and their credentials and accomplishments. But what investors may not see, unless they probe more deeply, is how much money have-Courage leaders left on the table – and how much it cost to solve the problems they didn’t anticipate or to replace the $US 200K talent who found something more fun, equitable and rewarding to do with their careers. It’s only when the collateral price of success gets too high, that high-Courage stars like Steve Jobs get booted from Apple v1.0, Marissa Mayer is asked to leave Yahoo, or Travis Kalanick is told to surrender to “Save-this-CEO-from-Himself” coaching.
Fortunately, leaders who have Courage can learn to become leaders who build Courage. When they do, they not only hold onto their $US 200K talent. They also unleash, then develop and focus, the entrepreneurial potential of their key talent – to accelerate value-creation.
In research on innovation leadership by our colleague, Dr Michael Seitchik, we see that build-Courage leaders create more value and better solutions than have-Courage leaders. They have the humility to show up looking for the smartest people in the room and the energizing presence to get the most from them, rather than showing up as the go-to solo geniuses who are the smartest people in the room.
If you’ve just lost the equivalent of a $US 200K talent – or have suffered a setback, mistake or miscalculation that could have been prevented if your key talent were more alert, “all-in” and fully engaged, rather than suppressed by solo geniuses – maybe it’s time to see if you need to create more fun, more appreciation and respect and build more Courage to fuel accountability and value-creation. Or, if your have-Courage leaders are way out in front of the rest of their team – and are chiding, pushing, cajoling, shaming others to get in line – maybe it’s time to balance the ledger and look at the opportunities that are being missed and the costs that are escalating, as well as the value that they are creating.