top of page

The Courage to Challenge Others

The Leader's 3-2-1: Three insights, two questions, and one statistic.

A leader is someone who has the courage to develop the potential of people (Brené Brown, Dare to Lead). Developing people takes courage because a leader must show up to the vulnerability of asking the hard, right questions and saying the hard, right things that move others toward growth. This brand of courage gets into the arena with others and challenges them to shift their thinking from complaining to creating, change their behavior from unproductive to productive, and move their hearts from doubt to duty. Clarity and connection are the courage-builders leaders need in order to challenge others to grow. The 3-2-1 on clarity and connection courage-builders:

Three Insights

Ask for consent. “Can I challenge you on something?” – a clear, simple request that conveys respect and gives the other's brain a couple seconds to prepare. This not only reduces defensiveness and preserves connection, it also gives you a clear, courageous segue to say or ask the hard, right thing. Be transparent. “My motive for saying/asking this is…" – an easy phrase to place your good intentions for challenging someone at the forefront. It adds courage and care to a vulnerable moment by increasing clarity (which human brains love) and reducing uncertainty (which human brains hate). Why are you challenging them? Share it. Show that you care. What are three habits you embody in your leadership practice that show you care about your team as people? Leaders must do the daily relational work to build rapport and respect with each team member. A strong connection means people are more likely to receive challenges well. *See today's stat for more.

Two questions

Who on your team do you know you need to challenge, but have been avoiding it? Get clear on why you're putting off the hard, right thing. Then, take one small step that moves you towards it. Courage won't always feel like confidence and strength. But, small and clear steps can make the vulnerability easier to manage. Check out this PDF for more helpful tools. When I step into courage to challenge others, what is mine to own? Release responsibility of other's emotions and reactions. How they respond is not yours to own. Clarity, kindness and creation of a safe space are yours to own. You also can’t control if someone changes or grows – you can only control giving them opportunities to do so.

One Statistic

40% of challenging others well is caring. "How well we take criticism can depend as much on our relationship with the messenger as it does on the message. In one experiment, people were at least 40% more receptive to criticism after they were told "I'm giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know that you can reach them." It's surprisingly easy to hear a hard truth when it comes from someone who believes in your potential and cares about your success." -Adam Grant, Think Again, pg. 87

Love these insights? Get them delivered directly to your inbox: Subscribe to the Leader's 3-2-1 newsletter


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page