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The Courage Way - Leading and Living with Integrity Review by Linda Rose and Meredith Duke

Shelly L. Francis
Berrett-Koehler Publishers

The Courage Way is a beautiful hardcover title written by Shelly L. Francis. The book can be purchased at the Berret-Koehler Publishers website for $24.95. Originally, I chose to review this book based on the sub title of the book: living and leading with integrity. The word integrity really caught my eye. Perhaps because I am daily walking in my own integrity and learning how to be a great leader, which includes knowing and living with integrity. The Courage Way is a definition of leadership and teaches readers how to trust in themselves as well as those around them in order to lead with courage and create a meaningful life of integrity.

The core of the book is centered around the teachings from Parker J. Palmer as well as those from the Center for Courage and Renewal. The author focuses the book on seven key areas necessary to build courage. Each chapter leads with an inspirational story of a person working through these challenges or difficult decisions to be made. Several of the stories have amazing endings, even when a person’s decision seemed wrong at the time. It is all about trusting yourself and following through with decisions that you have made.

Throughout the book’s twelve chapters, we learn about each of the seven key areas as well as the definition of the courage way along with learning about your true self. The author states that finding your true self is where you will have the most success. It is where your passions are hidden and where you access your inner leader. The book goes on to discuss each of the seven key areas of courage as listed below:

  • The Courage to Care for True Self
  • The Courage to Answer Your Calling
  • The Courage to Question and Listen
  • The Courage to Hold Tension in Life-Giving Ways
  • The Courage to Choose Wisely
  • The Courage to Connect and Trust in Each Other
  • The Courage to Stay or to Leave

Each of the chapters discussing these seven key areas are inspiring and thought provoking. Each is full of thoughtful and encouraging discussion points or questions to guide you through the tough times. I found that the life lessons learned from personal experience as demonstrations to be inspiring. I enjoyed learning how one person applied the principle and thinking about how I would apply each principle to my own life. Reading and applying many of the principles in this book can allow each person to lead with courage and integrity, whether they are leading a large corporation or a small team inside of a larger organization.

-Product review by Linda Rose, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May, 2018

Another Reviewer Perspective:

The Courage Way - Leading and Living with Integrity

Shelly L. Francis

Berrett-Koehler Publishers

Throughout my career I’ve done everything from being an attorney’s assistant, Human Resources Clerk, Risk Manager, marketing and graphic designer to my career now as a REALTOR.  Looking back through all my positions, I can see how leadership is drastically needed in any environment. Leadership is something that we can accomplish in any role we are given. But, there’s a way to do it where you draw people in rather than push them forward. And, as Ms. Francis points out, it takes courage to lead.

I was given the opportunity to review The Courage Way – Leading and Living with Integrity, co-authored by the Center for Courage & Renewal and Shelly L. Francis (the marketing and communications director at the Center for Courage & Renewal). And, it couldn’t have come at a better time as we are in the process of growing our real estate team.

From the beginning, this book has woven leadership and courage into the same fabric. Broken out into 12 chapters, the topics covered include:

  1. What is the Courage Way?
  2. The Inner Work of Leadership
  3. Have You Met Your True Self?
  4. Courage Takes Trust
  5. Reflection in Community
  6. The Courage to Care for True Self
  7. The Courage to Answer Your Calling
  8. The Courage to Question and Listen
  9. The Courage to Hold Tension in Life-Giving Ways
  10. The Courage to Choose Wisely
  11. The Courage to Connect and Trust in Each Other
  12. The Courage to Stay or to Leave

Before you can understand where this book is leading, you must first understand the four types of courage: physical, moral, social, and creative. From there the book dives into the various ways to handle difficult situations, office environments, stressful meetings, creating and managing large events, building your dream from the ground up, and so much more. It focuses on ways to handle growth, stagnation, pitfalls we may experience along the way, and how to address those issues that occur with us, with others, and through our interactions.

What I really appreciate with this book are the suggestions on HOW to conduct meetings, HOW to create an open, inviting atmosphere where ideas are encouraged, HOW to accept and embrace change, and to also take care of yourself.

I had several “take aways” from this book that I’ll be able to use in our own business, such as:

  1. Make time for yourself. You can be so focus-driven on making your business grow and succeed that you can often overlook yourself in the process.
  2. You cannot do it all on your own and expect to thrive. You must learn to delegate and allow others in your organization to assist.
  3. Trust and integrity go hand in hand. In order for co-workers and teammates to flourish under leadership (and therefore helping the business grow), they need to trust you. What you say and what you do work should mirror each other which helps to build others’ trust in you.

One of the other things that I really liked about this book are the actual first-hand accounts that start each chapter. They helped me to better understand the concept in that particular chapter and how the person was able to take a problem and address it using the principle described. That was very helpful. Plus, it opened my eyes on how to handle different scenarios that we face in our own business.

The only caution I have is that this is written from a secular viewpoint. I did not see any references to Christianity, so if you are looking for a Christian leadership guide, this may not be the one for you. However, considering that I am a Christian in a secular industry, I can still use these principles. Don’t let that be a factor in stopping you from purchasing this book. It’s simply something I felt needed to be addressed. There are many, many ways to incorporate the ideas of leadership and courage from this book into any business.

Therefore, if you are a teacher, business owner, manager, youth group leader, or hold some other position where you lead people, I strongly encourage you to read this book. It will give you a new understanding of courageous ways to lead others to perform better, believe in themselves, work together, and generally get the group you lead to move in the same direction.

-Product review by Meredith Duke, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May, 2018