We’re starting the year with courage because we know it’s foundational to all the changes you’d like to make this year. The CEO of Staffmark, Stacey Lane, has adopted the word courage as her word for the year.
She chose the word after hearing a presentation by our CEO, Rich Thompson, on his book RELENTLESS: Leading Through Performance, Relationships, and the Lessons of Sports. She said the message resonated with her so deeply that she had a bracelet made that says Courage to keep her focused and nudge her on a daily basis. Here’s Stacey’s outlook on 2024:
“My word for 2024 is COURAGE.
I chose it because I know that all of you are counting on me not to be perfect, not to be the smartest person in the room, not to have all of the answers – AND to have the courage to lead us to greatness.
This year is probably going to be the most important year in my entire career, in the history of SMG, in the collaboration with Indeed Flex. The stakes are high and it won’t be for the faint at heart. I’m going to need courage to make tough decisions that are complex that can impact our entire organization, navigating challenges, taking risks to drive growth and innovation, courage to embrace change and pursue opportunities, courage to handle adversity like setbacks or maybe even a few crises, courage to lead through difficult times, courage to sometimes make unpopular decisions, courage to communicate with transparency and with conviction, courage to inspire and adopt new ways of getting things done, courage to challenge the status quo, disrupt traditional business models, and drive change not only within our company and within the staffing industry, courage to take responsibility when things go wrong, to learn from mistakes and take corrective action while maintaining your trust, courage to be bold and drive positive change for all of us who love this company and our people so damn much.
One powerful quote about courage comes from Winston Churchill:
‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.’”
There’s real power in choosing a single word that inspires you every day. Courage can be the word that brings you back when you’re feeling defeated. Courage will help you initiate tough conversations and finally leave toxic relationships. Courage will help you face an unexpected setback or change that you never asked for.
Here are some Courage Challenges to start the new year. If you choose one, let us know. We’d love to hear and share your stories.
Courage Challenge Number One: Celebrate someone who’s smarter than you.
Sometimes, it takes courage to admit that you don’t know everything. As leaders, we often feel like we need to have all the answers. But a leader’s job is to make sure answers are possible that result in solutions. Often, those solutions are through people on your team who are knowledgeable and bring special skills to the group and take the lead in their area of expertise.
Steve Jobs agreed. He said: “It makes no sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
Rich argues that it’s a leader’s job to hire the smartest people they can find – and then let them shine. Their successes are their own successes, but they are your success as well. When someone on your team wins, the entire team wins. Good leaders find ways for team members to excel and then highlight their achievements to encourage them to win again and again. As a leader, admitting that someone else is the expert doesn’t take away from your own ability, it demonstrates your ability to lead and expand the contributions of the team.
Courage Challenge Number Two: Recognize someone who had the courage to grow.
Do you have a team member who took on a stretch role over the last year? Someone who wasn’t sure they had the right stuff, but jumped in anyway? Courage to do the scary thing is what we call Big C courage. Choosing to leave the safety of a role you’re good at – maybe even great at – for a chance at something big can be terrifying. You might fail. You might disappoint people. You might run right into the wall that defines your limit.
Or – you might succeed beyond your wildest expectations.
E.E. Cummings said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” Let’s celebrate someone who accepted the challenge, took on the project, or left the nest to try for something big.
About the Author of Relentless:
Rich Thompson, CEO of XPG Recruit, is an expert on staffing, human resources, training and leadership development. He is also a former All-Big Ten football player for the University of Wisconsin. XPG Recruit provides recruiting for staffing companies. The XPG Recruit Athlete division places former athletes into business careers and works closely with universities through its sister company, Podium X.