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Three Steps to Courageous Allyship

Three Steps to Courageous Allyship

Oftentimes growth, progress, and change require risk.

When an Olympic hopeful in equestrian show-jumping decides to play all out, she may decide to cut inside a jump to shave off precious time from the clock rather than choose a safer route to allow more time to get her horse balanced and straight.

If she plays all out, she takes a big risk.

Her horse may not be as able to clear the fence, therefore taking down a rail and incurring four or more faults. This would likely knock her out of qualifying for the Olympic team.

Growing and progressing in her sport will require her to take these types of risks.

The reward? Clearing the jump and proving that her sex, age, and experience are good enough to contribute to the Olympic team, therefore creating a ripple effect, inspiring other young riders to work hard and take strategic chances as well.

[Related: What the World Cup Can Teach Us About Success]

Being a courageous ally requires risk as well.

Based on the thousands of women and male allies I’ve spoken to via coaching, speaking, and training, here are a few of the most common questions that hold allies and potential allies from speaking up for themselves or on the behalf of others:

  • What will others think?
  • Will it impact my role/opportunities?
  • Will others disagree?
  • Will I get reprimanded if I speak up to or for someone more senior than myself?

Winning the race of equality will require clarity (where we stand), confidence (in our beliefs and our voice), and influence (to be heard by others in a productive and impactful way) to honor the required risk and move forward despite it.

It’s important to speak up and be heard now for yourself AND for others as a courageous ally. Here are a few strategies to gain clarity for your next level of courageous allyship.

[Related: Show Up]

1) Who’s your who?

In other words, who are you fighting for (besides yourself) if you stand up for others to be their best?

For example, my "who" is my mom, because she did not have a voice for what she believed in. No one was her ally, and she ended up feeling purposeless, and did not have a voice for what she believed in. I am courageous for her.

2) What’s your what?

What are you fighting for to help others do that’s bigger than yourself?

My what is "to empower female leaders, emerging leaders, and male allies to repair the world." Why must you be a courageous ally for yourself and others?

It can be big or small. Together, we add up to real change.

3) How will your family, company, community, or the world be different if you are a courageous ally?

Think about what is the cumulative effect of your consistent efforts in your immediate world, as well as your broader community.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing more about how to be a courageous advocate for yourself and a courageous ally for others, so we can learn to take the necessary and strategic risk for real change. I invite you to follow that journey.

[Related: Courageous Conversations: The Future is Now]


Sheryl Kline is the Founder and CEO of The Zone Lab, LLC. She is in the process of helping 10,000 women a year to gain the clarity, confidence, and influence to speak up, be heard, and unlock their next level of impact via coaching, speaking, and her HERimpact Academy course.

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.


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