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The Road to Audacity


The Road to Audacity

I’m reading an interesting book called “The Road to Audacity. Being Adventurous in Life and Work” by Stephen Carter and Jeremy Kourdi. This connects to Courageous Goals which John and I talk about in “Challenging Coaching”. It is interesting that “The Road to Audacity” was first published over ten years ago, and seems particularly relevant in the current economic and social situation we are facing in 2012.

High performance is directly linked to audacious behaviour. Audacity involves courage, boldness and achievement. It is about being brave, breaking rules and non-conforming. It is about being curious, adventurous and pioneering, it is also about the journey and the destination. It is the Hero’s journey (see page 120 of “Challenging Coaching”)

Carter and Kourdi say that in uncertain times individuals and organisations which seek to be audacious will thrive. There is the need to take risks, to try and do something new and different. But this is in the context of societies and organisations which try to control and reduce risk. The key to learning, developing personal skills and achieving progress is by taking risks. In “Challenging Coaching” we talk about courageous goals which involve excitement, fear and inspiration. To achieve a courageous goal we must be audacious.

Carter and Kourdis describe eight ways of being grouped into four pairs. They state that for organisations to be audacious they need to encourage employees to be playfully (opposite of serious), rebellious (as opposed to conforming), and mastery (as opposed to sympathy and harmony with others).

Playfulness is about spontaneity and being able to experiment. This is being in the moment, and free from concerns about the future or memories of the past. Being open-minded is seen as an asset. Rebelliousness is about demonstrating originality, breaking convention, and being independent. This is often actively discouraged in organisations. Mastery (self-orientation) is about striving to succeed, being results orientated, seeking and mastering new challenges and building up the power and resources to succeed.

Carter and Kourdis then go on to talk about the role of leadership in creating for audacity. They identify eight conditions which exist in situations of successful leadership:

  • Vision: people are encouraged to look at activities in the longer term, keeping in mind overall goals.
  • Enthusiasm: leadership is orientated towards getting people energetically engaged with their work.
  • Constructive conflict: the leader encourages innovation to bring about change, questioning assumptions, thinking critically. This is the ‘grit in the oyster’.
  • Collective individualism: the leader works to develop a climate in which people exercise power and authority. Individuals take responsibility on behalf of the whole, meeting their own needs and contributing to the group.
  • Shared resourcefulness: team co-operation and collaboration is fostered. Team members support each other and give up things, such as time, resources, information, etc to help others succeed.
  • Trust and belonging: team members feel liked, valued and supported. They contribute fully as there is a sense of safety as the leader protects the team when needed.
  • Emotional commitment: the climate is encouraged which emotionally supports others. This enables people to survive and thrive amid the pressures of the current challenging environment.

Bringing this back to “Challenging Coaching” it seems that what is described in the “Road to Audacity” is a balance of support and challenge. The climate and conditions are created to support the individual to allow and encourage them to be audacious. The challenge is in place to take risks, to be adventurous and question assumptions.

As coaches are we audacious?

Do we challenge and support our coachees to be audacious?

Do we examine the context of the whole organisation in which the coachee operates?

What could you do today which is audacious? Challenge yourself to be courageous. Let us know through the Linked In group what you did and what you learnt.

John and I look forward to hearing from you.

Ian Day is co-author along with John Blakey of "Challenging Coaching: going beyond traditional coaching to face the FACTS" published by Nicholas Brealey. For more informatio visit

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