Holding the Space for Courage

As a leader you hold the space for courage. It can be physical through standing up or cognitive by staying with a difficult conversation laced with conflict when you feel like fleeing. The space can grow over time or diminish depending on the environment and circumstances. Regardless, the leader is the one who claims the space for themselves and others just as a mountain lake claims space in the landscape.



Holding hands with courage

"Courage is about facing your fears which makes it universal, and it’s not just fear of ostracization, being bothered, being put down, fear of pissing off the Dean - there is also physical fear."


standing alone

The courageous leader has to be able to stand alone. They might be the only one in the discussion to hold a different position and are willing to go against the group decision.


you just have to

The participants described situations where they felt fear, vulnerability, trepidation and emotional anxiety. The situation felt like a personal threat. They said they had no choice - they had to act but the stakes were high

We will change this landscape


This song was commisioned by the University of Alberta as part of Dr. Olive Yonge's research of women in leadership. Through interviewing 92 female administrators of 16 Canadian post secondary institutions, the research team sought to examine how female administrators define courage and its relevancy to their work in the academy.

One participant described courage as having "glacial persistence" which became the inspiration for this song. All of the lyrics of Glacier are based on transcripts of the interviews. Glacier illustrates the triumphs and trials of being a woman in academia.


Glacial Persistence


. Courage is not one act - you might have to act again and again - in the same initiative. In this way there is an element of tenacity....going forward and persisting despite opposition. At the same time, part of courage is compassion and empathy and not being hard fisted or a bully. There might be high emotion in encounters but that does not equate to being courageous