A non-profit coaching client asked me recently to recommend the very best book I knew on charity leadership. She’s starting a new role and keen to get in some helpful reading. I think she was surprised by what I said.
Instead of a classic leadership tome like Good to Great by Jim Collins (which is indeed great) or Managing the Non-profit Organisation by Peter Drucker (also useful), I suggested Dare to Lead by Brené Brown.
Do you know it? Dare to Lead is fabulous and I recommend it to anyone wanting to shine in their leadership role. Which you are, of course!
What makes a great leader?
Brené Brown is a research scientist specialising in courage, shame, vulnerability and empathy. Not necessarily all qualities you would associate with a great leader, are they? But she is a bit of a hero of mine and much of my approach marries with her work. There are loads of reasons why.
First of all, I love her definition of a leader:
“Anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes and has the courage to develop that potential.”
I’ll take that! Leaders aren’t necessarily at the top of their organisation. I believe you can be a leader of people and still have a way to go in the traditional hierarchy. For me, it’s an approach. A way of behaving. A belief in yourself and what you want to achieve.
Almost all the coaching clients I work with, whether they’re CEO or just starting out, have this leadership quality in them – and I love working with these amazing people.
Why we need flawed leaders
I also love Brené’s focus on vulnerability and how it enhances rather than diminishes the leadership role. These days we don’t expect our leaders to be perfect, without faults and flaws, unemotional and cool. That doesn’t cut it anymore, if indeed it ever did. If you’re going to be a courageous leader facing up to the numerous challenges in the sector today, you have to be vulnerable, too.
Brené’s research shows that really courageous acts start with being vulnerable, scared, overwhelmed and out of your depth. In fact, no act of true courage ever really started anywhere else.
I encourage my coaching clients to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ too, acknowledging nerves but taking responsibility for their actions and learning from mistakes.
I could go on. And no doubt, in a future blog, I will. If you don’t know her work a great place to start is her TED talk – one of the five most viewed talks in the world. Catch it here.
Over to you
Do you feel comfortable being vulnerable in your leadership role? I’m willing to bet there have been times you’ve felt out of your depth and have grown as a result. Could those times help you find courage in difficult situations right now?
If fear is holding you back from reaching your potential, perhaps it’s time to take courageous action. Book in for a Discovery Session now, and let’s talk about how I can help you shine in your leadership role.