Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts is an excellent read by Dr. Brené Brown on how to become a more courageous leader. While there is a lot of helpful advice in the book, one thing that stands out is the relationship between vulnerability, trust, and courage, and how they’re essential for truly effective leadership.

Now, the book goes into considerable detail on the research and her thought processes behind these connections, but she does touch on each of these concepts in her four skill sets for courageous leadership. Let’s take a look at each of these to learn more about the relationship between vulnerability, trust, and courage, and how it can make you a more effective leader.

Rumbling with Vulnerability

Before we can begin to build up to courage, we need to rumble with vulnerability. While a lot of people may look at vulnerability as a sign of weakness, it is actually an essential part of connecting with others. Think about it: would your deepest, most intimate relationships really be what they are without vulnerability?

Brown defines vulnerability as “risk, uncertainty, and emotional exposure”, and this can be an understandably uncomfortable feeling for anyone. It means having the courage to open ourselves up to having real conversations with the people in our lives, even when it’s tough. This applies to leaders in that they need to have these difficult conversations in order to provide honest and productive feedback to their team, which can ultimately benefit their organization as a whole.

Clarifying and Living Values

Good leaders can easily identify their core values, and strive to ensure that their intentions and behaviours are in line with their beliefs. This takes a certain amount of courage, as it can be difficult to consistently make decisions that honour your values, especially in the face of disagreement or disapproval.

Yes, you may take some slack for sticking to your guns, but a courageous leader must refuse to be silent in tough situations. It sets a good example for your team, and encourages them to fight for what’s right in their own lives.

Being Open to Trust

Now, you shouldn’t just go around trusting everyone you meet – after all, some people may not have the best of intentions. However, it is important to develop trusting relationships when you’re in a leadership position, and this requires vulnerability.

Vulnerability doesn’t come before trust, though – they often go hand-in-hand. We often build trust with others by engaging in many small moments of vulnerability throughout the course of our relationships. You need to have the courage to let people in in order to develop these connections, which can make you a more effective leader.

When you’re a trustworthy leader, people know that they can count on you and your word. This can result in a more confident team, and better work overall.

Rising Above

An effective leader knows how to rise above when things aren’t going according to plan. They’re not looking to put the blame on someone or something – they’re figuring out how to do better next time.

You may feel vulnerable by owning up to any mistakes you’ve made that have contributed to the issue, but this is a courageous and productive act. Not only does it encourage trust in your working relationships, but having these honest, tough conversations is the only way you’re truly going to fix your problems and find success in the future.

While showing vulnerability, trust, and courage is important, a good leader also takes care of their employees. Learn about our Employee Wellness Program at Edie Gudaitis Wellness here.