Dare to Lead

by Brene Brown, PhD, LMSW

Over the years, Brene Brown has touched on so many valuable elements of good leadership and how strong leaders allow themselves to show vulnerability. In her most recent book, Dare to Lead, she highlights that vulnerability drives courage-building and, although often not recognized, it also drives creativity and innovation. I completely agree with her because I have witnessed creativity and innovation being stifled when teams haven’t felt comfortable sharing their ideas for fear of rejection.

While her perspectives on the benefits of showing vulnerability in leadership are great, I’d like to highlight the section of her book that’s focused on “armored leadership” vs “daring leadership”. It offers some excellent insights that could help all of us become better leaders. Brene describes “daring leadership” as being ultimately about serving other people, not ourselves. Below are highlights of a few of her examples about daring leadership that remind me of key practices within the EOS process.

  • Practicing Gratitude and Celebrating Milestones and Victories – Brene mentions that people who can truly lean into joy all have one thing in common . . . . they actually practice being grateful. Some make note of their gratitude on a device or a notepad while others share it with family members or others. When I read her comment about starting or ending meetings with a gratitude check and having everyone share one thing they’re grateful for, it reminded me of how my EOS clients begin their meetings. Not only have I seen this practice get the meeting started on a positive note, I’ve also seen it help the team get to know each other better and let their guard down.
  • Knowing Your Value – she emphasizes the benefits of sitting down with your employees and talking about their unique contributions so they recognize their strengths. Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach calls it one’s “unique ability”. To the extent you can match your employee’s role in your company with their unique ability, the more benefits you’ll gain for the company and the more they’ll enjoy working with you. That’s why it’s so important to first build your structure and identify key roles for each seat in that structure before you begin putting your employees in various seats. By doing so, you’ll be able to determine whether their “seat” is aligned with their unique ability.
  • Modeling and Supporting Rest, Play and Recovery – in this “daring leadership” example, Brene highlights the work of Dr. Stuart Brown in regards to the impact lack of play has on output in the office. He suggests that too often we consider our exhaustion, busy-ness, and productivity as status symbols when, instead, those outcomes of our behavior can have dangerous side effects such as burnout, depression and anxiety. I encourage my clients to identify the tasks they can delegate so they can elevate the level of their output in the areas that are most aligned with their unique ability and get it completed within a timeframe that allows for some work/life balance. When they do this, it’s a win/win situation – everyone on the team is more productive, while likely having more fun, and the company’s vision is more likely to be achieved.

As with other Brene Brown books, this is a great read.  There’s a lot to learn about one’s leadership skills and how we can continue to sharpen them and build a stronger, more productive team.


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