Professional courage and influence - Lesson 1: your reflections


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CIPD Staff

17 Jan, 2020 10:31

Welcome to the online community learning space for the lesson: Getting started with professional courage and influence. Use this forum to discuss the community reflective activity in the lesson. Read the contributions of others, ‘liking’ those you find helpful and add your unique reflections to the conversation by replying to this post. Click here to return to the lesson page at any time.

Community reflective activity:
Think of a people professional that you have worked with who showed professional courage and influence and the characteristics or behaviours they demonstrated. 


  • The person I’m thinking of communicated with humility but they’d obviously done their homework. They were really keen to listen and understand the bigger picture and delivered their ideas acknowledging that they were building on what had gone before. They always left people feeling as though their contribution, no matter how small, was significant.
  • I started my career in sales, a fortunate place to start as I was surrounded by colleagues, both sales people and managers, who were trained to influence but also understood that they needed to back up that attribute with facts and figures and know when and how to challenge a customer and not lose them to the competition. I make this point only to raise the awareness that we can learn from the approach our colleagues outside HR take in their day-to-day work.
  • In reply to Julie Marker:

    Like it, sounds like the value of humility was key...
  • An example springs to mind where a head of a department was using bully tactics to create an environment of low self-esteem within team members. The organisation had recruited a coach to work with diffferent departments including this one. During the programme, team members became confident enough to start sharing their own stories with each other and realised what was going on. A part-timer within the dept then organised the gathering of evidence of the bully behaviours. Then, about 2 months later, they presented the evidence in a diplomatic, fact-based way to the line manager of their line manager, the bully. This was contrary to their own personal style and took enormous courage to take themselves out of their comfort zone and deal with this situation. The end result was that the line manager then felt it necessary to resign. The team spirits sky rocketed and performance levels instantly improved.
  • In reply to Julie Marker:

    Sounds like they did all the right things here Julie. Humility works for me.
  • The person I am thinking of showed professional courage and influence by relying on their knowledge, both HR and more operationally. Therefore, they came across as having a wider business focus, which seemed to get the buy in from the operational managers.

    They also demonstrated active listening by asking questions to check their understanding and to show that they were taking the opinions of others into account. Allowing people to speak and communicating effectively worked.

  • Well over a decade ago I ran an appraisee skills workshop. In attendance was a very junior member of staff who told me about something that happened to them during their annual appraisal...
    Their manager wrote a comment on the annual report that they thought was harsh and unfair. The appraisee wrote a comment to this effect adding that they would like to speak to HR. During the review meeting the manager pushed the form across the table to the appraisee saying "I don't think it is in your careers best interest to write that". Their response was to push the form back across the desk to the manager saying "Actually I don't think its in your best interest that I have written it"! I often wonder how they are doing now. On writing this I am sure they are doing just fine.
  • In reply to Chris:

    Great example! I admire the appraisees response, meeting fire with fire! And yes I am sure they are doing just fine...
  • In reply to Julie Marker:

    Homework is definitely important to understand the context and what peoples vested interests are in something!
  • The person i'm thinking of is great at setting the scene when entering into a challenging discussion or negotiation to remind those involved what the common ground is that they are trying to achieve. They also spend time working out people's interests and viewpoints to adequately prepare to mitigate these and to be calm in the face of challenges. They also give space for others to speak and to ask questions, to ensure that everyone has been able to input into discussions and to know how to move forwards where following up is also key to keep all on the same page (with specific actions!)
  • I feel I have lost a certain amount of professional confidence, but through this exercise I have brought to mind a recent example of using confidence and influence and to address a senior manager who was speaking out of line with their new employee, leading to a very heated meeting. I had the confidence to tell him how he needed to improve the relationship and the way he addressed this person and I am pleased to have been able to recognize this through some self reflection.
  • In reply to Julie Marker:

    Sounds like a great way - the use of communication with humility but with the knowledge from homework to back up the discussion.
  • In reply to Neil:

    Learning from other professions and organisation functions will develop our relevance as people managers particularly in modeling the ability to challenge and speak up, again with the factors and figures you refer to also.
  • In reply to Helene:

    I think that courage is not always about speaking up or challenging others. Sometimes it is about challenging ourselves. Taking on things that may be outside our comfort zone. Our own actions can influence others and can inspire others too.
  • In reply to Chris:

    I wonder if the original comments from the manager were intended to help develop the younger employee and then they was being helpful in suggesting that an emotional response written down may not be the most prudent. DIfficult to judge from the description here. There is a distinction to be made between having professional courage to challenge upwards and being rude or belligerent.