We need braver leaders and more courageous cultures to engage with the seemingly intractable challenges of our environment and its insatiable demand for innovation. This was the response of 150 global C-level leaders to the research conducted by Dr Brené Brown for her new book, Dare to Lead.
Organisations who want to survive and thrive need cultures where people can show up wholeheartedly, leaders can dare greatly, and people can have the tough conversations that courageous teams demand.
Contrary to the most commonly-held beliefs, courage is not hard-wired into the genetic code of some people, and not of others. Brené Brown’s research reveals that courage is observable, measurable, teachable and contagious! This is good news for those leaders who are striving to be braver and seeking to instil courageous behaviours into their teams and organisational cultures.
Building courage in ourselves and in our cultures is not easy – partly because most people want to be brave, but no-one wants to be vulnerable. Most leaders tend to see vulnerability as a weakness. Yet the research shows that without vulnerability we fail to have tough conversations with each other, we fail to bring our whole selves to work, we tolerate trust-breaking behaviours and we hinder creativity and innovation. In short, we cannot be courageous without recognising our vulnerability and knowing how to respond to it.
There are four skill sets that build courage.
1. Rumbling with vulnerability is the foundation of four skill sets that build courage. Instead of trying to engineer vulnerability out of our relationships, our cultures and work places, we need to embrace it and learn to rumble with it. The process of rumbling with vulnerability starts with leaders becoming more self-aware about how they respond when they feel vulnerable. Leaders need to learn the skills to rumble with vulnerability because the greatest predictor of courage is the level of discomfort one can handle in the midst of vulnerability.
2. Living into our values is the next skill set that builds courage. Learning to identify and live into our values involves exploring not only what we value (as individuals and as teams), but also how we operationalise those values for ourselves, and our diverse teams. Leaders face fear on a daily basis, yet it is not fear that corrodes courage. It is our response to fear that derails us from the pathway to courage and shift us out of alignment with our values. Therefore, we need to become acutely aware of our responses to fear and learn to live into our values with courage, in spite of fear.
3. Braving trust is the third skill set that is imperative for building courage. Taking a deep dive into the building blocks of trust allows individuals and organisations to explore not only where they are out of alignment with their values, but also why.
4. Rising strong is the fourth skill set that builds courage. Courageous leaders know that “if you are brave enough, long enough, you will fail”. Consequently, courageous leaders learn how to rise strong before they fall, so they have the skills to get up stronger when they fall.
Dare to LeadTM is an empirically based courage-building programme, based on the research of Dr Brené Brown. The training focuses on developing four specific courage-building skills and is designed to help leaders and teams move from armoured to daring leadership. Individuals and organisations interested in Dare to LeadTM training can contact Nadine Mayers, Certified Dare to Lead Facilitator, on [email protected]