Reading time: 5 minutes

Over the last few weeks, I have had a Netflix binge! No, not the latest series of Ozark or G.L.O.W, I know I do have an eclectic taste!

Instead, I have watched several different developmental documentaries.

One that stood out was from Dr Brené Brown, the New York Times bestselling author and vulnerability researcher.

I am a massive fan of her work.

I first came across her through her famous TED talk on the power of vulnerability. For anyone who hasn’t seen her TED lecture, I strongly recommend you do. In fact, I’ll drop a link to it in the transcription of this podcast for you.

Anyway, let me get back to Netflix and Brené’s hour-long special.

In the programme, she dropped several gems about the makeup of a great leader, and she also revealed how her original TED talk came about – a lesson in leadership in itself…. I’ll share more on that later.

So, without further ado…. Let’s explore a few leadership lessons from Brené.

Hi there everyone, this is Rachel from the Learn Grow Succeed Podcast.

Today our goal is to share a few nuggets from Dr Brené Brown on how to grow as a leader, and we will explore more about this in a moment

First though, if you are new here… welcome 😊!

You will always find a transcription of our podcast over on the Excel Communications website, which is full of different resources for you to develop your leadership capability, including a host of specific blogs, podcasts, reports and webinar recordings.

On our Learn Grow Succeed podcast, we have now interviewed several different experts in their respective leadership fields. You can access these recordings on iTunes or over on the Excel website.

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So, let’s talk about the insights Brené Brown shares about being a great leader.

I’ve already mentioned that her TED talk is a must-watch, and in the Netflix special she shared how she was approached to be one of the first TED speakers in Houston.  By the way, her Netflix programme is called ‘The Call to Courage’ if you want to watch it.

Originally her talk was going to be around data from a research project and then on a plane journey back from working with a team of leaders in Silicon Valley, she changed her mind.

Brené decided it was time to ‘walk her talk’. She had been sharing with a particular leadership team about how essential it is to be vulnerable…. So, she decided maybe it would be a good idea to go to a vulnerable place with her TED Talk too.

Cliched I know, and the rest is history!

Though Brené was a renowned expert pre her TED talk in 2010, I’m sure she would openly admit that her career moved into the stratosphere after she stepped up to the plate and demonstrated her own vulnerability.

So, let’s look at more of the lessons she has for us.

Great Leaders Connect

Lesson one for me is about connection. The need to connect is at the core of every human being. It gives us meaning and purpose for our lives too.

It’s been with us since we first set foot on planet earth. We are someone’s daughter or son, or cousin or sister; we are part of one big tribe, all connected to each other.

…………….and here is the thing; it’s the same when it comes to being connected to our work and the people we work with in our organisation; and as an employee, we all want a connection with our leaders too.

So, what are your strategies for connection? And how are you putting them into action as you connect consistently with your employees?

Here is a great place to start and it’s to listen.

The most powerful way to build any form of connection and make someone feel valued is to listen to them.

Opening your ears to employees to find out what’s going right and wrong is critical. Simply asking people, “How’s it going?”, and then listening and acting on what is said is a habit of all great leaders.

Then it’s key to build on this and ask more questions.

If you want some ideas on this, I wrote a blog last month about questioning skills for leaders, which will make the process easier. I’ll link to it for you in the transcription of this post that you’ll find on the blog.

Great Leaders Have Courage

Let’s move onto the second lesson, and that’s about being courageous.

A leader who doesn’t embrace courage isn’t going anywhere fast and is likely to be disconnected from their team too.

Brené has a slightly different definition of the word courage, explaining that it comes from the Latin, Cor (pronounced Ker), meaning heart.

Essentially, courage is “to tell the story of who you are and move forward in your actions with your whole heart”.

Demonstrating leadership courage isn’t always comfortable either. I am sure we have all had those awkward conversations or times when we decided to move forward without having as many answers as we would like or what we were suggesting wasn’t going to be popular or what the team were expecting.

It’s precisely this kind of courageous behaviour that builds trust and sets a crucial example for others to follow.

Deep down, our employees are looking for confident, bold, courageous leaders who also have a heart.

So be courageous and:

  • Speak the truth even if it’s uncomfortable and unpopular.
  • Handle poor performance in your team: I know it’s hard, that’s why so many people avoid it until the problem is so much bigger than it needs to be. Do it anyway and experience how differently you feel as a result.
  • Communicate consistently – I know you might not have all the answers; who does. Ditch the jargon too and when you don’t know the answer to a question you are asked, admit it; which leads me onto Brene’s most powerful leadership lesson…

Great Leaders Are Vulnerable

And that is great leaders are vulnerable.

Vulnerability wasn’t a word you heard uttered on leadership training courses even a few short years ago.

Today it’s quite different.

Vulnerability has its foundation in the premise that we ‘are enough’, so no matter what happens in our personal and work lives we will get through it.

Vulnerability helps us navigate through the ups and downs we are all going to undoubtedly face. As Brené states, ‘You can’t be a vulnerable leader without being courageous and vice versa’.

Here is something to consider; today’s workforce is different.

With Millennials dominating, they expect and want to have a relationship with a ‘real’ leader.

So, don’t be afraid of exposing your flaws and weaknesses; in fact, embrace them for the entire team to see.

Though counterintuitive, revealing your vulnerabilities in the workplace can make for a stronger, more secure team. Hiding your imperfections or worse still, glossing over them, sets you up for failure as your team now create unrealistic expectations of you as Mr or Ms Perfect in their mind.

… Which is never good, as nobody can live up to that consistently.

When your employees view you as a human being who still makes mistakes and battles fear, they feel more comfortable with their faults too.

So, there you have it for today’s podcast: leadership ideas around connection, courage and vulnerability.

If you haven’t accessed any of Brené Brown’s material yet, make that an action. Her website is at Brené Brown dot com and has everything you’ll need.

So, this is Rachel saying bye for now.


The Excel Team

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