Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts: Brené Brown on Dare to Lead

Brene Brown on Dare to Lead

In this enlightening episode, Brené Brown describes her research study, seven years in the making, that looks at the future of leadership and the barriers and obstacles to daring leadership. “One of the most important findings of my career is daring leadership—a collection of skills and practices that are teachable, observable, and measurable. It’s learning and unlearning that requires brave work, tough conversations, and showing up with your whole heart. It isn’t easy—because choosing courage over comfort is not always our default. But it is necessary if you want to cultivate braver, more daring leaders, and embed the value of courage into your culture,” explains Brown.

Brown describes the four skills needed to become a courageous leader. The first and most important skill is Rumbling with Vulnerability. Brown had assumed that the biggest barrier to courageous leadership would be fear, but her research indicated that fear is not a barrier. In fact, leaders she interviewed admitted to being fearful much of the time. The real barrier is how people armor themselves to deal with the fear. It is critical to understand that we all self-protect when we feel scared, defensive, or vulnerable.

A great tool to use when Rumbling with Vulnerablity is curiosity. “When I find myself in a tough situation or I’m about to receive some hard feedback, instead of getting my armor up, I stay open and ask questions, so I can get specific information,” Brown explains. In the book she identifies 16 different ways we armor ourselves and offers ways to move that armor out of the way to become a daring, courageous leader.

The second skill is Living into Your Values. Leaders constantly must do tough things, give hard feedback, put bold ideas into motion while being unsure of the outcome, and take many risks. Courageous leaders are able to do this consistently because they operate with a clear set of values and behaviors that line up with those values. “It is important to have values as a leader, but it is critical to operationalize them. Otherwise they are just vague concepts, not guiding principles,” Brown explains.

The third skill, Braving Trust, can be tricky because many leaders don’t know how to talk about trust. Direct reports have to trust their leaders in order to have honest conversations and both parties have to be in an unarmored position. It’s no secret that the highest performing teams are built on a foundation of trust. And building trust is a skill that can be taught and learned.

The fourth skill is Learning to Rise and deals with the ability to re-set after an error or mistake. The ability to be resilient helps leaders learn from mistakes quickly, share those learnings, and continue to move forward in a positive way. And, yes, it is a skill that every leader can learn.

“Courage is a skill set we can teach, measure, and observe, but we are choosing not to because it is an investment of energy and time and it takes muscle building. But why are we choosing not to do it? If we need braver leaders, but we’re not investing in skilling them up, what is getting in the way?” asked Brown.

Brown’s new book, Dare to Lead is the ultimate playbook that offers practical skill-building tools for creating brave leaders in your organization.

About The Ken Blanchard Companies

The Ken Blanchard Companies is the global leader in management training. For nearly 40 years, Blanchard has been creating the best managers in the world, training over 150,000 people each year. From the award-winning First-time Manager program—based on the best-selling business book, The New One Minute Manager®—to SLII®, the most widely taught leadership model in the world, Blanchard is the provider of choice of Fortune 500 companies as well as small to medium businesses, government agencies, and educational and nonprofit organizations.

About Brené Brown

For more information on Brené Brown, go to and click on the Dare to Lead Hub for free resources.


About the Author

Chad Gordon

Chad Gordon is the host of the LeaderChat podcast and one of Blanchard's top client partners dedicated to helping global organizations lead at a higher level.

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