Discussing the Five Courage Questions

Welcome to the Leadership Vision Podcast, where we share our expertise in the discovery, practice, and implementation of a Strengths-Based approach to people, teams, and culture.

In this episode, Nathan, Melissa, and Brian discuss five questions that you can use for courage and how we have used them in professional relationships here at Leadership Vision. These are questions you can ask whenever there’s something difficult in life or when you need clarity or more understanding about how you’re going to show up for something.

The five courage questions are: What brought you here? What are your fears and concerns? What would make this successful? What support do you need? And what boundaries need to be put in place?

The Five Courage Questions

Whenever we need to be courageous, we start with the five courage questions: What brought me here? What’s causing that? What are my fears or concerns? Because If you don’t recognize your fears or concerns, you operate out of them. What would make this successful? Let’s get clear about what success means because often if we don’t, then we’re letting ego drive and we can be going towards the wrong things. What support do you need? And then what boundaries need to be put in place? If you get emotionally healthy, the people around you get emotionally healthy.

Once we integrated this language into helping us understand our identities, we began to integrate it into almost every conversation that we’re having. When we’re consulting with a group or when we’re coaching someone, or when we’re doing a 1 to 1 conversation. These five questions act as a guiding framework to how we’re listening and how we’re helping other people understand who they are, their team context, and how they’re leading others.

When to Use the Five Courage Questions?

We find these five questions very helpful when we’re working with leaders of teams. Typically, these leaders are trying to influence the members of their teams and they’re coming across relational problems such as how to work with different personalities, how to integrate decisions, how to get people aligned on something.

How We Use the Five Courage Questions

Oftentimes when we talk to people, there is an inflated and exaggerated version of the story that’s being told in the moment. By asking what brought you here, you’re eliminating the exaggeration and taking away the inflation to actually look at what’s really there. Additionally, people often don’t realize that they tend to choose the familiar. And sometimes the familiar is a destructive pattern, but it’s one that they’re used to so they’ll choose it instead of perhaps choosing an easier, better option. With the five questions, we can help them understand there are other choices here, not just your instinctive, recognizable pattern.  

It’s helping people recognize the patterns that they fall into when they’re in struggle. We armor up, we get afraid, and we go into those patterns that we’ve always done. This series of courage questions helps people imagine things differently.

1. What Brought You Here?

So much of our work is rooted in story, the story of how you got here, the story of your own personal narrative, the story that you’re telling yourself. The first question of what brought you here really gets you to the place of asking someone else to begin to tell their story. It always then prompts me to ask, who else was there? Because no one’s on this journey by themselves. And what brought you here can also be who brought you here or who came with you.

2. What are Your Fears and Concerns?

Oftentimes when things have derailed and you’re helping somebody process through what’s happened, it’s the fears or concerns that have brought them to that point where they thought they had no other choices. It’s their fears or concerns that have made them think they only have one path. When you can help somebody understand how their fears or concerns are driving their behavior, that’s when the change really starts happening. 

Especially in the workplace, we have people who think that they don’t have emotions or let emotions drive them. They almost wear it with pride. We like to think that we are thinking beings who sometimes feel, especially at work. But we are feeling beings who sometimes think. And the more you help leaders understand their fears or concerns, the more you’ll get to the emotions that they’re experiencing and how it’s derailing them from being the leader they want to be.

3. What Would Make This Successful?

What would make this successful once you’ve actually identified the problem? You’re asking people to maybe step back even more and say, well, what would make this successful? We know we’re working with a good leader when they can answer this question and when they can’t answer what success looks like or what the support is that they need.

4. What Support do You Need?

Sometimes a person believes it’s about trust or it’s about ownership or about alignment. But what help do you need? Sometimes the fear is that we don’t have enough courage to ask for help. Or we ask for the wrong type of support. It also protects an organization from blame. If you are specific about the support that you need, who is responsible for that support?

5. What Boundaries Need to be Put in Place?  

Boundaries are always tricky. Boundaries are about healthy connection, not disconnection. A healthy boundary would be: I’m not going to make you guess how I feel if I’m frustrated by the work or if I’m frustrated by the way you’re showing up, I will let you know. I won’t make you guess that I’m upset if you’re not satisfied with the progress I’ve made.

The challenge with the word ‘boundaries’ is it’s often interpreted as an intentional separation from somebody. That we set up a boundary between people. But in this context, or when we use the term boundary with someone, it’s an intentional integration. We’re putting up boundaries for intentional integration.

Ask Yourself the Five Courage Questions

We really encourage leaders to work through these five questions and really, really ask themselves, what does courage look like in this moment?  We’re going into a new year. There are going to be lots of challenges and decisions and opportunities to really stretch and flex your courage muscles. How do you clarify and focus on what you can do in any given situation?

If you have questions about anything you heard in this episode, reach out to Amy at connect@leadershipvisionconsulting.com. We’d love to hear from you!

About The Leadership Vision Podcast

The Leadership Vision Podcast is a weekly show sharing our expertise in the discovery, practice, and implementation of a strengths-based approach to people, teams, and culture. We believe that knowing your Strengths is only the beginning. Our highest potential exists in the ongoing exploration of our talents. Subscribe to the Leadership Vision Podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherSpotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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