The Real Truth about Being Bold

Just after I had taken a new leadership role, a colleague confronted me about something I had written. She made an appointment to see me off campus and brought her husband with her. I was scared. What could possibly be this wrong? I’m pretty self-aware.

Even though few people had seen the document, she pointed out that some of my wording was belittling to her. I was astonished — that had not been my intent. Purposefully listening with the intent to understand her helped me see it. Now I could restore trust by apologizing and avoid repeating it in the future. This encounter encouraged me to focus on facts instead of opinions. Her boldness improved my leadership skills, preserved the culture of honesty in the organization, and protected the people who came after her. While it was painful, it was priceless.

Being bold isn’t easy but the results can be long-lasting and far-reaching. It requires taking a risk. Not all bold moves pay off. Bold statement are only valuable if we can say what needs to be said without judgment. Boldness is not synonymous with crassness. Boldness paired with good intentions has the greatest benefit, whereas self-serving boldness destroys relationships. I benefited from heart-felt boldness. Every day for about two weeks, I saw a new way that her feedback had helped me or the organization for the long run. She had no idea it would be that valuable. All she knew was she had to be bold.

When we choose not to be bold, it costs individuals, organizations, leaders and likely ourselves. A women checked into the hospital to have a tonsillectomy and the surgical team erroneously removed a portion of her foot. No less than seven people wondered why the surgeon was working on the foot, but said nothing.

Don’t be afraid to speak up others depend on it.