Daring to Lead

by | Aug 6, 2019

  • We’re in the midst of a humanistic zeitgist
  • Dr Brene Brown drew more than 8000 leaders around the country to her seminar .
  • Fear of irrelevance triggers shame – and shame creates a toxic culture

Last Friday I had the good fortune of seeing Brene Brown speak in person in Melbourne.

For those not familiar, Dr Brene Brown is a storyteller / researcher, NYT best seller, and famous for her work on vulnerability, shame, resilience. Initially a research professor in social work, she became famous when her 2010 TEDx talk The Power of Vulnerability struck a chord.

I’ve seen her before and she is without a doubt one of the most exceptionally engaging presenters you will see. She has an ability to punctuate research findings with humorous anecdotes and sticky one-liners that keep you fully present.

Beyond the content of her talk, what I found truly fascinating and cause for optimism was that there were 8000 + people in Sydney and Melbourne (and all over the country) prepared to make a significant investment to see her speak. We are truly in the midst of a humanistic zeitgeist. Where people matter as much as profit. Where leaders are craving connection with material on the human condition. There were leadership teams from all of corporate sector there – engineers, footballers, financial sector – not just those industry sectors you would assume that are people centric and open to conversations about vulnerability and empathy.

One of my more popular keynotes is on the themes of Radical Humanity – five qualities needed to thrive during fast moving and relentless change. So it was rewarding to hear those qualities lauded by Brown on stage.

Most of the content came from Dare to Lead, her latest book. It’s a great resource – chock full of resource, story, and practical activities. And if you are new to Brown, its worth spending some time trawling on her website – she is generous in giving content and activities away.

Some of the take-aways that resonated for me out of Friday were:

  • The future of leadership belongs to the brave and curious
  • I will not replace courageous leadership
  • Tough conversations are key with brave leadership
  • We have higher expectations of people in organisations than we do in our homes
  • If you want people to be brave, teach them how to get up and reset
  • Toxic cultures – gossiping, bullying, exclusion – are born of people who are shame-prone
  • The greatest shame trigger is irrelevance (especially pertinent in change work)
  • Our ‘armour’ ensures irrelevance
  • You can’t be generous if you don’t have boundaries

I don’t know that I had any epiphanies from this session – more it was a validation of why I work with leaders in the way that I do. A different kind of transformation is possible. And I am extremely grateful for the work Brown has done to “normalise” these concepts in such a way that SO many people wanted to attend.

For those in Australia keen to really dig into Brene Brown’s work I highly recommend Kylie Lewis of Of Kin – as an accredited trainer – public and inhouse workshops.

And if you are a fan of Brene Brown, I’d love to hear what it is that resonates with you? Share in the comments! 


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