Brené Brown’s book, Dare to Lead, challenges conventional wisdom by looking at how the most courageous yet successful leaders feel, behave, and think so that you too can become a daring yet effective leader simply by engaging your heart and mind.
Forget about status and power games, instead, look to your values and emotions, and improve your interpersonal relationship skills with honesty, trust, and a huge helping of vulnerability.
Vulnerability leads to courage and creativity. Let go of perfectionism, embrace failure, and be brave enough to explore your feelings and the thoughts and feelings of those around you. Stop numbing your feelings of vulnerability with alcohol or food and get to the root of the cause so that you can fix it… Dare to lead!
Key Takeaways from Dare to Lead by Brene Brown:
Takeaway #1: Vulnerability Is An Asset
Feeling vulnerable is a common human emotion felt during times of uncertainty as well as when we open ourselves up to others but it’s not anything to be ashamed of. Rather than thinking of vulnerability as a weakness and allowing the feelings of self-protection to take over, the key is to think of vulnerability as being an asset.
In practical terms, it’s impossible to carry out a courageous act without first stepping into vulnerability. In 2014 Brené Brown asked a room full of special forces military personnel whether anyone had carried out or witnessed a courageous act that did not require them to feel vulnerable. None of the tough soldiers could come up with an example of being courageous without also feeling vulnerable first.
Being vulnerable is paramount to our creativity, our health, our relationships, and our growth. Unfortunately, due to our Western culture believing that being vulnerable means being weak, most of us struggle to embrace (what we perceive as) failure, learn from it, and use it as a stepping stone to success.
Takeaway #2: The Truth Hurts But Is Necessary
All leaders should be honest and clear in their daily communications whether at work or at home but unfortunately, it’s something that many of us shy away from, not wanting to upset or anger the other person or make ourselves feel uncomfortable. We may think it’s kinder to give people a half-truth but just as we have been misled to think vulnerability equates to weakness, by avoiding confrontational yet honest conversations, we’re reducing productivity and setting the other person up for failure since we usually blame and resent people for not delivering later down the line despite us having never told them clearly and concisely what we want of them.
As well as being honest and clear, leaders also need to spend a significant amount of time discussing fears and feelings with their team and truly listening to the feedback they give. In order to get the truth from people rather than just what you want to hear / what they think you want to hear, you need to keep quiet as much as possible, leaving the other person with enough time to speak. A little silence goes a long way as it will make them feel uncomfortable enough to want to fill that silence with their true thoughts on the matter. As they speak, don’t automatically come up with a response whether in your mind or said our loud - you need to concentrate on truly listening to and understanding their concerns. Allow some time to ponder the subject before jumping to an answer.
Takeaway #3: Core Values Are Needed for Daring Leadership
The strength to carry on, try again, and face the office the following day comes not just from grit and determination but from your core values. The most successful and courageous leaders are risk-takers who are clear about their values, these values acting as a ‘guiding light’ during dark difficult times.
Make a list of your core values and then highlight the two that are the most important to you. Brené Brown selected courage and faith as her two key values but yours could be very different. Two is the magic number due to Brené discovering that leaders with 10 or more values were less able to demonstrate vulnerability and courage due to feeling overwhelmed on what action to take, none of the core values being the driving force of their behavior and just a bunch of words written down that made them feel good.
Takeaway #4: Failure Teaches Bravery
In the same way that you wouldn’t teach a skydiver how to land after they’d jumped out of a plane, leaders shouldn’t be taught resilience after a crisis. Teaching resilience early on, as part of a wider training course or during an onboarding process, means that employees are going to be more confident, courageous, and therefore, more successful due to knowing that failures are normal but that they can handle and bounce back from any setbacks they encounter.
Rather than worrying that you’re teaching employees to have low expectations due to a ‘you will fail’ attitude, know that resilience training is not about setting someone up to fail but about setting them up for bravery. Be mindful of the “Fail Fast” mentality - you do not want your employees to fail without the so-called safety net of resilience training as this could scare and shame them into never feeling confident enough to be brave again and therefore never reaching their full potential.
Takeaway #5: If You’re a Perfectionist You’re Not Courageous
We learn as kids to protect ourselves from feeling hurt, disappointed and diminished by using our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors to build a protective wall around us. One of the most prevalent self-protection mechanisms comes in the form of perfectionism but great leaders are not perfect since you have to be vulnerable to be courageous - something the perfectionists fear the most!
We are taught that striving for excellence (perfectionism) is a good thing at school but in reality, perfectionism is dangerous with the constant need to win approval and people-please not to mention the fear of criticism and failure which leads to missed opportunities and mental paralysis plus anxiety, depression, and addiction.
It is possible to have a healthy drive for success without being a perfectionist though, you just have to take a chance and jump into life.
Takeaway #6: Elevate Trust
There are 7 behaviors that encourage trust and that should be deployed to improve working relationships and our strengths. They can be remembered with the acronym BRAVING:
B = Boundaries. Respect other people’s boundaries and if unsure of those boundaries, ask the person if it’s ok. The other person needs to feel comfortable with you enough to say no if it’s not ok.
R = Reliability. Do you do what you say you will? Are you aware of your abilities and limitations? Leaders should not overpromise nor under-deliver on the commitments they’ve made.
A = Accountability. Own your mistakes, say sorry, and make amends wherever possible.
V = Vault. You’re a vault of information that people have shared with you but it’s vital you don’t share information given to you in confidence.
I = Integrity. Practice what you preach - Choose courage over comfort and do what’s right over what’s easy, immoral, fun, or improper.
N = Non-Judgement. People need to be able to tell you the truth or ask for help without you judging them.
G = Generosity. Always be generous with your words, actions, and intentions towards others. Look for the best in people, not the worst.
Editor and Founder
Tal Gur is a location independent entrepreneur, author, and impact investor. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His most recent book and bestseller, The Art of Fully Living - 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals Around the World, has set the stage for his new mission: elevating the next generation of leaders to their true potential.