Last year, when SHRM announced their first keynote for the 2019 conference would be Brene Brown, I knew I wanted to return to the conference (even if it is in Las Vegas). I’ve read her books in the past – and listened to Dare to Lead earlier this year. There’s just something about listening to the author share their words that is so powerful. Hearing her in person was even more so – being able to watch her facial expressions and gestures to emphasize her story, only added to the experience.
I attempted to tweet; I attempted to take notes; sometimes I just listened. As I listened to her, I remembered some of the stories from her books. Brene’s voice is so familiar, so comforting that even though she was talking to a crowd of 20,000+ people, I felt she could have been telling these stories directly to me.
Brene is talking about changing the way we think about work, the way we think about leadership. The leader is no longer the person with all the ideas, with all the answers. The leader is the one brave enough to say I don’t have all the ideas or the answers and I need to find people who do.
We need to be brave to have that difficult conversation. And we need to be brave to listen to that difficult conversation. When we’ve fallen down on the job (because we will). We want to be “nice” [ever hear of “Minnesota Nice”? It’s not really nice. It’s extra polite and passive agressive!], which we believe means never saying anything “mean.” We will tap out rather than have that conversation. And then we wonder why things aren’t going well, or why an employee is failing – if we never tell them how to do something the right way, or that what they are doing isn’t working, how can they improve? Alternately, if we aren’t OPEN to these conversations, we won’t know that our manager thinks we are failing and we won’t have the opportunity to improve.
We have been taught for a long time that vulnerability is a bad thing. It’s not. You need to be vulnerable to be brave. Bravery isn’t something you are born with. It is Teachable. It is Observable. It is Measurable. We know it when we see it. Vulnerability, bravery is hard. It sucks. We need to embrace the suck to be brave, to make a difference. We cannot be afraid of the hard conversations.
My big take away from Brene is we cannot be afraid to to ask for help. Asking for help is not failure. Not asking for help is.
Be open. Be vulnerable. Be brave.