Dare to lead
dare to lead
Dare to lead by Brené Brown is a book for every leader and for anyone who is interested in leadership. It opens up the core parts of leadership and what brave leadership is. She wonders what would happen if courage, connection and meaning would be combined with the world of work. She writes in easy, understandable way and opens up every point with practical example. This makes it easy to connect that points into one´s own life and experienced situations. Even though it is impossible to change one´s behaviour only by reading the book, it is something that will stay in the back of one´s head and can be used later in life. After making a mistake or e.g. communicating incorrectly, it is good to look back and see what can be learned from the situation and what can be done better next time. For me the book was eye-opening in the way I communicate with others and especially when it comes to showing empathy. As there were so many important chapters and topics in the book, I am sure I will read it again one day, to recall the information and see if I actually took any of the learnings to use.
Humaneness at the core of everything
The most important message from the book is that we are all humans. We all have emotions, we all feel shame and vulnerability. We all have families and private life; we all face difficulties on our journey. Would be insane to assume that our leader or team would work as a robot. We need to take that into consideration when we are having conversations with each other and dealing with different teams.
Leadership requires work with a brave mind and an open heart. Leader needs to be the one who takes off the armor and goes to the arena, meaning that they need to be vulnerable first, showing that humaneness is valuable. Vulnerability and courage usually go hand in hand, and one feels both at the same time. That is the reason why it is sometimes hard to take off the armor and be vulnerable. Having tough conversations is not easy, but that needs to be done in order to be a brave, successful leader.
Daring leadership differentiates of armored leadership in many ways. To mention few of the differences, armored leadership focuses more to:
- Being a knower and being right
– It is impossible to know everything and exhausting to act like one does. It is also aversive behaviour from a leader.2. Driving perfectionism and fostering fear of failure
– There is no such thing as perfect and would be insane to demand that from ourselves or others. Perfectionism increases the feeling of shame.
3. Zigzagging and avoiding hard conversations
-When facing a though or unpleasant situation, often we try to zigzag around it rather than handling it straight. Diving into vulnerability and going straight to action requires a lot of courage.
4. Hustling for our worth
– When trying to prove our worth to others, we are trying to be everywhere at the same time, doing everything correctly. If we do not trust and delegate task to others, we usually end up doing sloppy work instead of focusing and doing one thing correctly.
Daring leadership on the other hand focuses more to:
- Being a learner and getting it right
– Rather than acting all-knowing, it is good to be curious and ready to learn. Admitting that one does not know something yet does not mean looking stupid, it shows humaneness and vulnerability, admitting the imperfection often builds trust in a team.2. Modelling and encouraging healthy striving, empathy and self-compassion
– The foundation of a team needs to be built on trust in order to talk about perfectionism and how to avoid thoughts and behaviours of it. When teammates trust one another, it is safe to learn how to let go of perfectionism as a defensive tool.
3. Straight talking and taking action
– Diving straight into action when it comes to hard situations helps building trust. Zigzagging makes the leader seem fearful and although it is okay to show that feeling, it is important to show example in hard situations. talking straight and taking action also increases people´s respect.
4. Knowing our value
– Knowing both ours and our teammates values helps us to stop crawling in unworthiness and competing against each other in order to show our worth. Instead we can focus on to the common goal and cheer each other towards it.
For healthy working environments, daring leadership is a must. It is more motivating and profitable, at least in longer time period. As an example from my own experiences, leading from behind an armor gives a feeling of cowardice. It shows that the leader is not giving his full input and potential to the workplace and that really affects to the motivation of the employees. It is hard to require work done with a full heart, if leader is not showing the example for it.
Empathy is a crucial part of actions and communications of a leader. Many times, people mix it with sympathy which means feeling sorry for someone. Empathy is connecting with the feeling one is experiencing. All the situations we experience are different, so it is impossible to know exactly the situations other person is in. After all, we as a humans experience the same feelings, and it is important to connect with those. Putting yourself to other’s shoes might help when figuring out how to react in different situations. When giving feedback, would be important to calm down so that something good and positive can be said about the person before we start telling the negative. This is something that I personally learned a lot from, since I see myself as an emphatic person, but it has been hard to me to show it sometimes. Getting practical examples helped me to picture myself in the situations and hopefully I will remember the learnings next time when in situation where those are needed.
Loving and being merciful to yourself plays an important role when speaking about good leadership. As Brené wrote in the book, “perfectionism and fear are keeping people from learning and growing”. If we do not appreciate and learn how to be nice to ourselves, it is hard to genuinely act that way towards others. There will be many times fear might keep us from doing something but the way we react to it defines us. It is not that brave people would not also feel fear, they are just not afraid to respond to it.
Taking off one´s armor and being open-hearted is hard and requires courage. Opening one´s heart means putting it in the middle of a battlefield where anything can happen to it. If one does not open it and give it the possibility to be broken, there certainly is not possibility for love either. In order to love and be loved, we must embrace the humaneness in us and let our hearts be whole, with all the feelings we have. Brené described this as wholeheartedness, which means embracing the vulnerability and let ourselves be deeply seen. Having the courage to be imperfected and letting go of who we should be and be who we are.
Brown, B. (2018). Dare to lead: Daring Greatly and Rising Strong at Work. Random House, New York, United States.