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Soft Skills & Hard Skills

Focus on cross functional skills : managerial courage

eye 1375 Published on 02 Jun. 2022
tag #Managerial skills

Cross-functional skills are now the reference in terms of assessment. All sectors of career management are rendering importance to cross-functional skills as it forms a competitive advantage in the context of recruitment, acts as a vector of visibility for educational and professional orientation, provides a new base for planning of employment and skills, and contributes to a powerful development path in coaching.

To continue our special series, in this article we highlight a high-level skill: managerial courage.

Specific to managerial functions, this cross-functional skill is highly valued in all managerial positions. While few managers can claim to have fully mastered it, it is possible to develop this exceptional skill, as long as you work hard on yourself and are motivated to become a complete leader who can comfortably take on this demanding role and shine on your team.
Let's take a look at what this competence means, what it is made up of and how to develop it.

Managerial courage: the skill that doesn't shy away

Scientists agree that managerial courage is the ability to: "speak out assertively and set limits when the situation demands it". More than just the ability to assert oneself in situations as varied as they are complex, it is also the expression of an assertive self, aware of one's potential and lucid about one's limits. As a human being above all, the manager must know how to put their emotions at the service of their role and turn their fears, as natural as they may be, into a strength to have the courage to be, to think and to do what is right.

For more than ever, the current and upcoming workplace will have been subject to disconcerting transformations. In these conditions, the manager should be simultaneously reassuring, educational, unifying, visionary, decision-maker and pioneer, offering their team the support they need and setting themselves up as the reference they can rely on.

The components of managerial courage

Several elements constitute a cross-functional competency. They have an impact on how the competence will be applied, its mastery and its potential for development. There are five of these elements:

  • Personality: these are the natural character traits of a person. The more a person possesses the traits associated with a competence, the more easily they can apply that competence and use it effectively. However, as personality traits are stable by nature, developing a skill from personality requires more hard work.

    As far as managerial courage is concerned, a good balance between control and autonomy is required to convey a vision, drive dynamics and ensure a non-intrusive presence with everyone. While they should be in the driver's seat to set the course, they should also listen to their teams, seeking their opinions and considering their needs, to engage everyone towards the same objective.

    This manager shows ambition, certainly to compete for this role and to feel legitimate in it, but with a dose of moderation, to avoid falling into the excessive need for self-esteem. He wants to be inspiring and manage humanly with a lot of authenticity. His actions are consistent with his words; he leads by example, is self-determined and persistent, and knows how to recognise his mistakes and react to rectify them.
  • Interest and motivation: they concern what the person likes to do, what motivates and excites them. They are related to the enjoyment and satisfaction derived from an activity. They have an impact on the development of skills, as a motivated person is more likely to make the effort to improve.

    The main sources of motivation involved in managerial courage are the need to influence, to surpass oneself and to develop others. This manager wants to have an impact on the company's results by intervening in important choices and by taking an active part in decisions. They seek to take on challenges by leaving their comfort zone to confront themselves and strive for the best. Finally, he is stimulated by the idea of being a reference for others and of being able to help them to grow and develop through his contact, by being a source of inspiration for others.
  • Abilities: these call on the person's interpersonal and know-how skills and are acquired. They include professional skills and soft skills, which, due to their strong evolutionary potential, have a positive impact on the development of competencies.

    Managerial courage is one of the competencies that most strongly calls for emotional skills. To be courageous in one's managerial functions, one must first have a high level of self-awareness, to be able to recognise one's strengths but also one's limits. Because having managerial courage also means showing humility, accepting that others may be more competent than oneself, and giving them the space to exist. 

    Aware of their value and with the strength of their self-confidence, they take on their responsibilities with firmness and know how to remain in control of themselves to face challenges calmly, while knowing how to reassure their teams.

    The manager with managerial courage is empathetic and assertive; they know how to assert themselves respectfully but firmly without crushing others, but above all, they know how to express themselves in difficult situations and convey messages in chosen but fair terms. They do not abandon their responsibilities when they have to readjust their teams, and they do so at the right time, using tact, benevolence and firmness. Finally, he also knows how to express his disagreement with senior management and engage in constructive discussions, always keeping in mind the well-being of all and the performance of the company.
  • Cognitive: this is similar to the person's thinking skills and enables them to understand their environment, grasp its complexity and provide appropriate responses. The development of cognitive abilities is consequent to the efforts of the person concerned on the exercises to be carried out.

    The cognitive abilities of managerial courage are advanced since they must enable the person to take a global view of things, to quickly identify the issues at stake in a situation, to subtly evaluate a person's speech to grasp its value, and to finely construct appropriate responses in all circumstances. Their critical analysis skills, fine judgement and level of logical reasoning enable the manager to be autonomous and reliable in making decisions in highly complex situations.
  • The environment: any competency can be exercised effectively if the environment in which it is used allows it. An unfriendly environment can limit the potential of a competency to be deployed. The more in tune a person is with the environment in which they find themselves, the better they will feel and the more they will be able to perform at their best.

    While managerial courage can be observed in all work environments, the values most related to it are those of environments that are both performance and people-centred. They allow us to focus on the values of performance and surpassing oneself while considering the well-being and inclusion of groups and team spirit.

Development paths

To develop managerial courage, it is necessary to work on self-knowledge, particularly through individual coaching. Knowing who one is allows one to manage according to oneself and not according to imposed standards. It allows one to manage according to one's strengths, assets, values, and a touch of fantasy, but also one's vulnerabilities. Being oneself in management allows one to aim for an accessible ideal, to constantly improve and strive for the best of oneself.

Group workshops with groups of leaders are also conducive to the development of this skill, where the group dynamic naturally drives the desire to develop this exceptional skill. These workshops often involve experiential activities to live various experiences related to managerial functions and then to go back and analyse the experience. It is this reflective part that is fundamental to the development of the competence, as it allows one to become aware of one's actions, to analyse their quality and to gain knowledge for oneself, to reinforce these actions, or to make them evolve for the better.

Finally, mentoring is a good way to develop this skill. Being in contact with other courageous managers is a great source of inspiration. The exchange, sharing and support that this relationship provides helps to identify the difficulties encountered in deploying this competence and to find appropriate solutions, inspired by the mentor's experiences and knowledge.

Helen Simard

Consultant psychologist

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