Brene Brown on 6 problems that arise without ‘brave leadership’

“Courage is teachable, observable and measurable,” she told attendees at #SHRM19. But what happens when it’s missing?

Many employers have value lists, but few managers know how those values translate into action — making those lists next to worthless, Brene Brown, speaker and researcher at the University of Houston​, told HR managers during the Monday general session at the 2019 Society for Human Resource Management Annual Conference.

Brown had one answer for ​how HR, strapped for time and resources, can make the workplace better: brave leadership.

“We asked leaders all over. What is the future of leadership? Who will be standing in five years? Who won’t be? And for the first time in my career, the answer was saturated across everyone I interviewed: We need braver leaders. We need people who can make change and rehumanize work,” Brown said.

Brown said her research subjects had trouble defining “what makes up a brave leader?” Instead, she asked: What does the absence of brave leadership look like?

Not having tough conversations

Not enough challenging conversations take place, generally, Brown said. Corrective conversations (the typical tough conversation) usually aren’t fun, but in avoiding them, managers choose a worse alternative and talk about those who have done wrong, rather than to them. This can allow the problem to fester unabated.

HR practitioners should remember that asking managers to have hard conversations is like asking an airline passenger to fly the plane based on their number of frequent flier miles, Brown added. The manager may not inherently have the tools to do the task; but HR can enable the development of those skills.

Not embracing fear and feelings

Brown called this missing skill “the worst one on the list” due to its inherent difficulty. HR leaders tend to spend “an unreasonable amount of time” dealing with people’s fears and thus end up “playing whack-a-mole” with unproductive behaviors triggered by those fears. A leader has to be okay probing the fears and insecurities that may underpin behaviors, but it can take serious time — and emotional engagement — to do so.

Getting stuck in setbacks

Failure is necessary for innovation, but if leaders want to embrace failure as a cultural norm, they need to model for their people how that may look. “We spend 20% of our energy fixing it and 80% helping pull people out of ‘the shame s—storm,'” Brown said. “People have to be responsible for their own bounce.”

That bounce — usually referred to more broadly as resilience — can be taught, but timing is key; you can’t teach people to get back up from a failure “when they are on the ground,” Brown said. Education on resilience and bravery, as Brown called it, needs to start during onboarding.

Falling for action bias

People want to fix problems, but defaulting to action before strategizing about the issue can lead to solving the same problem over and over again. Proper problem identification often requires someone “to sit in vulnerability” to discover what really went wrong, Brown said. That process can be painful, but it is often necessary to solve underlying issues once and for all.

Source: HR Dive

Date: 25th June, 2019

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