If you’ve gone through an Empathy training with our team, you know how much we appreciate Brené Brown’s perspective, especially the one she shares in this video. We excitedly awaited the release of her new book, Dare to Lead, and made it this month’s book club book.
One of our favorite quotes from the book was: “A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.”
This quote kicked off an empathy building book-club conversation about feedback, communication, leadership, and more. Here are some of the main points we covered throughout our team discussion:
A rumble is a discussion, conversation, or meeting defined by a commitment to lean into vulnerability. This portion of the book is especially helpful when considering the messy uncertainty of startup inspired approaches and the amount of vulnerability it requires to succeed in this space. Oftentimes, our clients are faced with the intense pressure to deliver groundbreaking results that are ‘sure to win.’ In the beginning stages of the Sprint process, this can feel like a tricky feat since there is so much grey area, risk, and uncertainty to filter through. One way Brown talks about overcoming this discomfort is to be courageous, which requires a great deal of vulnerability. At TGG, we prep for this discomfort by embracing the Growth Mindset, taking every situation–including vulnerable ones–as an opportunity to learn. Another way to do this is to move away from what Brown calls armored leadership and strive for daring leadership. “Armored leadership” is often found in Bigco settings and involves driving perfectionism and the fear of failure. Rather than appearing as an expert and feeling the need to always be right, it is important to model growth and the desire to learn more. Striving to understand and practice empathy will ultimately lead to a more clear goal.
Leading a team into bold new ways of thinking can feel overwhelming, especially when intentions aren’t as clear as they could be. For these unfamiliar initiatives, consider defining the overall intention with assigned values to create a shared purpose. Whether these are personal values or values within a company, it is important that they are made clear and that all behaviors, thoughts, words, and beliefs align with them. The first part in establishing this way of operating is to define what is important and what values you want to live out. Second, break them down by naming behaviors that support it. This will help all members of the team hold one another accountable. Motivations and end goals are made stronger when values and intentions are clear.
When the actions of an individual don’t align with the predetermined values of a team, company, or individual, feedback can be offered in a more clear, compassionate and opportunistic manner. Brown calls these “slippery behaviors” and referencing how they may go against values helps realign the vision and get everyone back on track.
Perhaps the biggest gap in failed leadership is trust. However, gaining someone’s trust doesn’t happen overnight. Many examples of trust-building scenarios are commonly mistaken as “weak” or “shameful”, but are often the most vulnerable or courageous moments, like admitting when you don’t know something, owning up to mistakes, asking for help or support, setting boundaries and knowing when to say no, operating with humility, and most importantly, choosing courage over comfort. These actions help break down hierarchy and welcome an organization that isn’t afraid to ask questions, test new approaches, think differently, or fail forward– all essential for personal and corporate growth. We see trust being built all the time when individuals from different functions come together and rely on the knowledge and support of conflicting perspectives.
Brown uses this section to explain the three-part framework for practicing vulnerability skills. The first part she calls “The Reckoning.” This is when you recognize that you are emotionally hooked and begin to get curious about something. More often than not, these are strong emotions of anger, blame, or fear. As a result of this revelation, and because we’re human, we tend to make up false stories in the absence of data. This rumble is a cue for knowing a real conversation needs to happen, even if it’s tough. “The Revolution” is both a rebellion and an indicator of success. It is the level of collective courage within an organization. By developing leaders and helping them recognize and answer their personal call to courage, we are scaling the most powerful tool there is all while encouraging brave work governed by whole hearts.
If you and your team read this book, we’d love to hear more about what conversations it sparks for you and your team. Here are a few resources for you to quickly dig into and enable your conversation: