Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts (English) Brene Brown

Introduction

What comes to mind, first when I ask you to visualise a great leader? Consider a tall man dressed in a suit, walking straight with his head held high, appearing confident and always strict. This is the previous incarnation of leaders. There is a new definition of a great leader emerging today. This book will alter your perception on what characteristics define a great leader.
We will show you how to develop into a leader over time. You will realise that irresponsible leadership is outdated and that you must adapt. Hi, I am {speaker name}. I am a passionate self-taught coder and Now run a small startup and Leading a Company as a part-time CTO. 

This book will assist you in accomplishing this goal by outlining the fundamental ideas of vulnerability. You’ll discover how vulnerability can help you become a more dependable and trustworthy leader.
Additionally, you will learn how to have difficult conversations with your employees. You’ll learn how to listen effectively, how to treat others with compassion, and how to create a firm in which everyone is united via shared values.

If you want to be a successful leader, you must understand how to manage your team effectively. You must demonstrate that you are self-assured, inquisitive, and courageous.
This book has everything you need to transition from being an outmoded leader to a completely new one that everyone will admire and respect. More significantly, you’ll be able to collaborate more effectively with your team.
Let’s discuss how to improve your leadership skills!

The Moment and the Myths

In this world, there are two types of people. The first type shall be labeled Bold people: they are the ones who always take risks even when they know that they might fail. The second type is the type of people who only take risks when failure is a remote possibility.  
Being a daring leader means going all-in, even when you know that you are going to fail.  Daring entails becoming vulnerable. 

Vulnerability is the panoply of emotions that we feel when we are taking risks or feeling exposed.
Most people believe that vulnerability is related to weakness, something that we should let go of, as it is baseless. 
The truth is the other way around. When we are vulnerable, we are stronger because we are the ones in control of our emotions: we are connecting with others, and we are building trust with everyone.
Let’s take the example of Ellen. Ellen is in third grade. One day, she came home crying. Her mother was both angry and worried.

When Ellen’s mother asked why she’s crying, the child said that she did something very embarrassing in school and that her friends promised her that they wouldn’t tell anyone.
But then, Ellen went to class and found out that the whole school knows about her embarrassing moment. They were all whispering and laughing at her. 
Ellen cried a lot. She told her mother that she would never trust anyone again. Her mother was upset; but, she tried to teach her daughter a valuable lesson.  

The mother told Ellen to imagine a marble jar. Whenever a friend did something good for her, Ellen would put a marble in the friend’s jar.
Now, the mother told Ellen to think about all her friends. Which of her friends deserves more marbles in their jar? Ellen thought carefully and started naming a few.

We trust people who have lots of marbles in the jar, which means that the person is a good friend. But, trust can only be built when we are vulnerable and making connections. To become a great leader, you will need the trust of your followers.  
Showing emotions is not a weakness; but, it’s a way to form good relationships and get the support of the people around you. 
Over time, you would be filling marble jars of a lot of people, and your marble jar may be filled as well.

The Call to Courage

Sometimes, we are faced with events that make us feel uncomfortable. Usually, we think that it’s better to lie in this kind of situation than to be truthful.
We think that by hiding something from the concerned person, we are being kind. But, actually, true kindness is shown by being clear and sincere. If what you are trying to say is harsh, try giving the other person some time to ponder over your words. 
Because great leaders must know how to be honest and supportive, we will take a look at the story of Colonel DeDe. 

DeDe is the director of innovation, leadership development, and analysis. She works for Airforce Global Strike Command, and she is responsible for over 33,000 officers.  
Before DeDe took this position, she had worked as a commander for the 2nd mission support group at Louisiana. During that time, she was responsible for over 1,800 airmen. 
As a leader, DeDe believes that it’s her responsibility to be vulnerable and to know how to solve any kind of problem. The only issue is that there is no training that prepared her, or any other leader, to be able to use the right words when emotions are involved.  

During her first year of command, DeDe was giving some awards to her airman. During her speech, she asked if anyone had a question.
One of the airmen raised his hand. He asked if they were planning to reduce work hours because he and his comrades have been exhausted.
DeDe responded to his inquiry by explaining that everyone is tired, not only in this command, but all regions are suffering from the same issue. 

Then she asked the men who were tired to raise their hands. To her surprise, almost everyone did. 
Faced with this problem, DeDe stood silent. She remembered an article that she read a long time ago, and she decided to try to be vulnerable and share her concerns. 
DeDe said that she read an article that talked about exhaustion. The results of that research indicate that when people are tired, especially in places of business, they are, in fact, lonely.
The exhaustion they are feeling is more emotional than physical.

Then DeDe asked them which one of them is lonely? Almost fifteen men raised their hands. DeDe was very shocked because she believed that even if they are lonely, men won’t have the courage to admit it.
DeDe didn’t know what to do because she is not a therapist. The only option she could think of is to be humane: to try to identify with their emotions, to share their pain, and to discuss possible solutions. 
After a very long discussion, DeDe and her group came out with a new plan that has more human interaction and more socializing among the group of airmen. 

DeDe was a leader who overcame a difficult situation. Instead of running away, she decided to face the problem and to talk honestly with the people that she was responsible for.
Talking candidly is never easy; but, being a great leader entails being willing to make difficult conversations even when we have no idea about what we are talking about. We can just listen and share vulnerability.

The Armory

The heart is commonly linked to feelings. Leaders choose to lead in two different ways when it comes to sentimentality. Some of them decide to be heartless because they believe that when feelings are involved, people become less productive and less focused. Other leaders choose to be warm-hearted. They believe that display of emotions is a source of power, and that without it, there is neither courage nor creativity. 
To illustrate this, we’ll tell you the story of Sarah. Sarah was a great leader. She was responsible for a group of professional analysts. This group of people was gathered from around the world; so, they were characterized by a huge diversity of age, gender, and race.

Although she was great at her job, Sarah always found herself struggling to understand her employees, due to the diversity gap; a matter that made communication more difficult.
Once, Sarah noticed that a group of analysts from Hong Kong have not always been participating in video conferences, and she wanted to know why.

These people are very important members of the team; yet, they were not good at communicating with others. Sarah called the Hong Kong team privately, and tried to get to the bottom of the issue.
She told them that they were significant and that their lack of participation was damaging the teamwork. 
At that moment, the group was very quiet. Then one of them spoke and told Sarah the truth. The employee told her that their group tried to reach out to the representatives many times to inform them about the issue. The problem is that they only get notified of meetings ten minutes before they occur. The Hong Kong team found this disrespectful because no one can be ready for a meeting in ten minutes. They felt rejected; so, they stayed away and maintained a passive attitude. 

A conversation like this would be challenging for a typical leader. Nevertheless, Sarah is used to having this kind of conversations, as she manages a diverse group which members come from different cultures.
Talking about social conventions and cultural differences is never easy. But, Sarah does her best to keep it up. She talked to the representatives, and asked them to notify the Hong Kong team earlier than usual, so they can get ready to take part in the meetings.

If Sarah ignored difficult conversations, like this one, and led her team the old-fashioned way, all kinds of feelings would be hidden, and employees would be forced to work in a negative environment where they feel like they are being disrespected.
Such circumstances might result in low quality work. If your team members are not feeling welcome, comfortable, and supported, they won’t be creative or willing to improve. 

You need your team because they are the ones who keep the work moving forward. That’s why, you need them to be at their best conditions, and that only can happen when you give them the support they need, listen to them, and allow them to be emotional. 
Don’t run away from stressful situations because if you do, bigger problems will arise. Your employees are vulnerable human beings, who have every right to be emotional and to express their feelings. So, don’t treat them like robots.

Shame and Empathy

Shame is the feeling that we experience when we are in situations that make us feel inferior to others or unworthy of their respect, love, and care. Because we are scared to be left alone, we feel stressed when we feel ashamed. 
The opposite of being alone is connecting with other people. This can only happen when we treat each other with empathy. We don’t have to understand what the other person is going through. We just need to sympathize with his emotions at that time.

Empathy is a feeling that we have to share with the world. We have to try to understand each other without any prejudice. We, also, need to have empathy for ourselves. 
In 2017, author Brene Brown was about to release a new book, and she was preparing for a pre-book tour boot camp. Because she published many books, she has been doing a lot of book tours. It was the part of her job that made her feel happy and exhausted at the same time. Her latest book tour left her miserable; so, she decided that she will never do a book tour ever again without being physically, mentally, and emotionally ready. 

Brown loves connecting with her audience in tours; but, she usually finds herself tired of travelling, moving from one hotel to another, and feeling homesickness.  
At first, she can be productive. But over the time, she started to feel sick and isolated. She, also, started to lock herself in her room. She blamed it all on her introversion. For Brown, being on tour and around a huge number of people is exhausting. 

Once she got back to her usual diet, workout plan, and practicing prayers, Brown felt good again. She was back at work, and she was able to record an audiobook.
When they were recording, the producer asked Brown to take off her earrings because they were making so much noise. Brown was embarrassed; then, hurried towards her purse with her head down. 
She was running so fast that she hit her forehead into a thick glass wall. 
Brene Brown fainted. Then, she woke up crying and unaware of what happened to her. The producer told her to go home or at least to see a doctor; but, she refused. She said that she felt ok and that she wanted to keep on working.

After recording for another half an hour, Brown burst into tears. She went home because she couldn’t keep on working and act as if nothing happened.
One day, during a video call meeting with her team, Brene stopped everyone and said that she hadn’t understood a word they were saying. 

Her colleagues were worried about her; but, Brown kept telling them that she was fine, and that they had to resume their work. This went on until Brown collapsed, and her co-workers had to call her husband. Healso had a difficult time convincing Brene to see a doctor. 
Brene was diagnosed with a head concussion. It was caused by the glass wall she hit the past few weeks. The doctors told her that she needs to rest and wait until her injury heals.

For Brene Brown, sickness was a weakness. She had events that were scheduled for the upcoming months. Although, she was not ready to stop working and to cancel everything, her team had already done it for her.
The more Brene kept trying to force herself to work, the sicker she got.
She felt weak, shameful, and unreliable. 
Brene was drowning in all those negative feelings until a friend gave her an advice that changed her life forever. 

Her friend was a football player who, also, had a concussion months ago. He told Brene that this type of injury is persistent. The more you fight it, the more it’ll resist. 
He told Brene that the only way to heal is to let go. Give yourself a break and learn to step back. Relax and try to enjoy your life.  
Because Brown took her friend’s advice, she started to feel better slowly. But, that fear of losing herself and never being able to work again made her feel anxious. She had to see a therapist. 
The doctor told her that her anxiety was normal, and that she needs to relax and try to listen to her body’s needs.

Slowly, Brene started to get back up again, to work out, and to feel healthy. She got back to work, and she found herself supported by everyone. Her colleagues were kind and empathetic. They all worked together again, and Brene forgot about her sickness.  
She learned a precious lesson.She learned how to listen to her body and to treat herself with more empathy. 

Curiosity and Grounded Confidence

The reason we talked a lot about vulnerability in this book is that vulnerability is the core of leading with confidence. If you are not vulnerable, you’ll never have the courage to try new things and build your confidence level in the process.
Research has proven that to be creative, confident, and smart; you need to be curious. 
To be curious and confident, you mustn’t hide your emotions. As a leader, you need your team members to build trust, practice your values, and grow more as a human being. 

Take the following story as an illustration. Lauren used to be a professional soccer player. She always tells people that the most important part of playing football is ball control.
Ever since she was young, her coaches would always push her to touch the ball a million times with different parts of her feet. Even when she became a professional player, she still had to practice ball control with other members of her team.

Lauren has a small garden in her house. This garden is surrounded by a brick wall. Lauren used this wall to practice ball control at home every day. 
She would pick a certain brick, then keeps trying to hit it with different parts of her foot. She, then, moves on to another brick, then to another…
Lauren believes that to be a good player, you have to master ball control. But, when players are in the field, they need to focus on things other than kicking the ball. They need to watch everything and be strategic.  

A football player must have total control over the ball while focusing on other things at the same time. If the player is not confident about his ball control, he can never win the game.  
Leaders are just like football players. Once they face a challenge, they must have the ability to stay calm, listen to others, and try to solve a problem; rather than react emotionally. 

Living into Our Values

When we work hard on trying to achieve something significant to us, we face a lot of obstacles. Criticism is one of these hindrances. If we are doubtful about our core values, listening to other people may push us to forget why we are working so hard to achieve our goals.
When we lead with vulnerability, we are keeping our minds open to creativity, empathy, and confidence. Being open-hearted can make us a target. If we don’t have clear values that are leading us towards the right path, we’ll never be able to stay strong or survive being vulnerable.

Let’s consider the story of Miovision. This company is working to reduce traffic and trying to come up with creative solutions to improve road traffic safety.
Miovision has been struggling for years to improve the quality of work. They wanted to improve the overall performance of their employees to promote trust, vulnerability, and positive intent. 
The company tried to implement a program whereby each employee would receive a rating on each required skill. The sheets will then be reviewed and discussed one by one with the team leader. 

The outcome of this program was not positive. It resulted in passive-aggressive behaviour among the workers because they were not ready to receive feedback. The leaders were also not ready to have tough conversations, which made things worse.
After trying several performance management programs, Miovision came up with a new approach. Workers needed to feel responsible.They needed to understand what it’s like to be in the frontline;              so, Miovision gave them the driver’s seat. 

As they became directly responsible, the employees became more self-aware and more vulnerable. They learned how to receive feedback and how to develop themselves from there. When you’re in the frontline, nothing seems to be personal anymore because you have too much responsibility.
You can no longer feel judged because your focus will only be on the problem ahead and how you can find solutions. 

When leaders and team managers are trained to have difficult conversations and to deal with feedback, success becomes very attainable. 
When everyone puts aside their reluctance and try to listen, when everyone is focusing on the core values of the company and directing their energy towards following these values, the business place will be comfortable, creative, and full of confidence. Everyone will be connected because no one will feel like they are being excluded. 
Leaders need to be trained so they can become good listeners, and employees need to learn how to give and receive feedback. 

Conclusion 

There are two types of leaders: the first is the armoured and the second is the daring.
This book has taught you the difference between both types.  It also explained the benefits of change from leading thoughtlessly to leading with vulnerability.
As you have learned, being vulnerable doesn’t mean being weak. Additionally, when you are honest, and you listen to your team with empathy, you’ll achieve great results. 
This book has taught you how to make confidence out of vulnerability. It has been a ride towards in-depth self-exploration.

If you don’t understand who you are and what are your values, you will never to be able to lead a team towards success.
As a great leader, you need to practice your values every day and lead with principle. You need to be ready to have difficult conversations and to receive feedback. 
Leading open-heartedly doesn’t entail weakness; it rather makes you stronger.
So, lead with vulnerability, and never be afraid to treat your employees as humans, because they ARE humans! Never forget that.

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