Courageous Leadership

My commitment to working in leadership is really in work, because we spend half of our lives at work. I don’t think you can change the world unless you change the way we work, and I think big changes are coming that are going to require us to be more human, less armored, more authentic; I think when we talk about the rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence, the things we will never be able to replace are human skills of courage and empathySo we better get good at them because we aren’t great at them now.” 

  •  Brené Brown

Waiting in the training room in San Antonio for Brené Brown, you could feel the excitement as she walked in, relaxed in her jeans and sneakers, characteristic large hooped earrings and a huge smile, hi-fiving and welcoming in her wonderful Texan “y’all” way… and I overheard people saying ‘I’m never going to wash my hand again!!!’.

As many of you know, I’ve just spent 3 days with Brené becoming certified as a Dare to Lead TM Facilitator . What an amazing, life changing experience, and I feel very excited to add this program to the UBalancer suite of offerings!

Brené is everything you imagined and more! When she started speaking, it was electric ~ you could feel every person in the room hanging onto her every word. She shared that she thinks people love her work because she’s in such personal struggle to live into it as much as we all are ~ “I’m an authentic mess; I’m imperfect, but I keep showing up and trying to learn and do the best I can”.

What I loved most (apart from the extraordinary curriculum that is ‘Dare to Lead’) were the stories Brené shared. 

She’s funny, and role models the vulnerability she wants to see in brave, courageous, authentic and imperfect leaders. I hadn’t realized that her younger twin sisters are in her team, and it’s clear that they have a lot of fun together (and enjoy playing pranks on her!). Brené loves the Flash Mob Ode to Joy and played it at the start of our training. What she loves is the awe, wonder and relationship between strangers seen in Flash Mobs – all great data for a Grounded Theory Qualitative researcher like herself. On the second day of our training, to celebrate Brené’s birthday, her sisters arranged a simulated Flash Mob ‘Ode to Joy’ in the foyer of the hotel…it was beautiful watching Brené’s surprise, joy & older sister ‘what the’ moment. 

I’m sure many of you have seen the now famous video on Empathy and Sympathy where she says “wanna sandwich?” So now her twin sisters are always teasing her…”wanna sandwich Brené?” 

Dare to Lead TM is the program resulting from Brené’s research with 150 leaders, and she’s very clear about the future of leadership, and who will still be standing in 5 years’ time in this fast paced, changing environment loaded with uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. 

One answer saturated her results, “We need braver, more courageous leaders”, and as courage is a skillset that is measurable, learnable and teachable – we need to start measuring and teaching it at all levels of organisations.  

There were many people in the training room who have experienced the Dare to Lead TM Program, and the feedback was phenomenal. “Life changing” were words heard over and over. One story sticks with me…an army guy nicknamed “tank” because he destroyed his direct reports, shifted to be an inspirational, motivational leader after attending the Dare to Lead TM program!

Throughout the training, I tried to capture some of Brené s words:

The only currency in this bankrupt world is what you say to someone when you’re being uncool”

“The mantle of leadership is about how you serve the people around you. It has nothing to do with power or status”

“Self- awareness and self- love matter. Who we are is how we lead”

She speaks truth to bullsh*t. Once a CEO said to her “People are scared of me”, and she replied, “That’s OK but you’re not going to be able to build the culture you want; if you don’t know how to do risk, uncertainty and emotional exposure, you can’t have the hard conversations or give feedback ….’

And she’s very clear about what happens in the absence of daring/courageous/brave leadership.

So, perhaps you’re interested in taking the Dare to Lead leadership assessment; and start thinking about what you personally can do to grow your own courage skillset (and those of your people) in 2020.

The research for her next book is underway, and it’s around Emotion. I can’t wait for the release of this book, as you know I’m passionate about EQ and Brené repeated many times how vital Emotional Literacy is in one of the courage building skills, ‘Rising Strong.’ 

Sadly whilst with Brené, there was another school shooting over here in the USA. She interrupted the training, and role modelled how one shares information of that magnitude, with genuine care, deep connection, raw emotion, honesty and firm resolve for change. I learned so much. Thank you Brené, your leadership shines a light in a world looking for a braver, clearer path. 

As passionate as I am about emotional intelligence, change resilience and igniting thriving teams, Brené’s work adds a whole new dimension, and I’m excited to dive in with y’all in 2020!

Wishing you a safe, healthy and fun-filled festive season.

Alison