Ruth Clare

Successful businesses start with courageous leaders

In an interview with Inc. Australia, Richard Branson said, “Being a good listener, finding empathy, understanding emotions, communicating effectively, treating people well, and bringing out the best is critical to success. It will also help you build a business that really understands people and solve their problems, and it will make for a happier and healthier team too.”

Most of us can see that this approach makes sense. But how many businesses actually do this? This approach requires vulnerability and openness. It requires business leaders who listen more than they speak. It requires education about emotions and a willingness to be curious about people on a human level, rather than just seeing them as cogs in a wheel.

This might at first seem labour intensive, but treating people as humans first, is highly effective at keeping teams motivated and on track. It is also a way to build a culture where each person feels empowered to ask questions, challenge assumptions and contribute their unique insights and talents, which is at the heart of creating a psychologically safe workplace.

This safety begins from the top down, through leaders who have the courage to be authentic and human themselves. Instead of shying away from difficult conversations and pretending perfection, these types of leaders are open about their missteps and misgivings. Instead of being certain that they are right, they are receptive to the ideas of others and willing to listen and to learn from their experiences and perspectives.

Courageous leaders are honest, open and human first and foremost. They create cultures of positive encouragement and recognition, knowing that valuing people’s unique strengths doesn’t only build their confidence, it strengthens their commitment. These leaders value the wide range of knowledge, skills and approaches that exist in their organisation. In doing so, they benefit from more engaged, motivated and satisfied employees, proven to be better at problem solving and innovation.

Instead of ambiguous accountability, courageous leaders live by the concept of radical ownership and continuous improvement. What more could we do? How could we do better? How can I lead and support in the most meaningful and impactful way? They provide clear goals, defined roles and big visions to help their employees understand the why behind the what and to know their purpose behind their work.

What type of leader do you want to be? What type of organisation are you creating?

Ruth Clare is an award-winning author, TEDx and motivational keynote speaker, professional actor, qualified scientist and authenticity, resilience and change expert who learned by necessity, first to survive, then to thrive. Ruth weaves research and hard-won lessons with powerful, relatable stories from her lived experience overcoming adversity, to help others find the courage to own the stories that are holding them back so they can rewrite their lives. With a rare knack for distilling the neuroscience and psychology of human behaviour into simple ideas and practical strategies, Ruth shows people how to embrace uncertainty, stay hopeful when times are tough and harness their potential for growth and change. Ruth’s TEDx talk, The Pain of Hiding Your True Self, has had over half a million views.