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Brené Brown’s latest book Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. is not just for your boss. Whether you’re responsible for a team of hundreds of people, struggling to climb the corporate ladder, or striking out all on your own, we all have moments in our work lives when we have no choice but to take the lead. Moments when we are called upon to stand up and blaze a trail for others or ourselves. 

Dare to Lead continues the author’s research on vulnerability and resilience in more depth by investigating how we relate to and engage with others and ourselves, but this time the focus is on the workplace. 

In true Brené style, she takes the approach of teaching through storytelling. Her thorough and insightful research is illuminated through a combination of stories from those she has interviewed and her own personal stories.

While this is an easy read, you’ll find yourself stopping at points to mull over a sentence or passage—or perhaps to think about how accurately it reflects a real situation in your own work life. 

One of my favorite passages from the book is the story of paint DONE. Many of us have had the disappointing experience—at work or at home—of delegating a task only to find the result falls short of our expectations. It happens time and time again until you decide to just do it yourself. We’ve all been there.  

It’s the age-old story we tell ourselves: no one is able to give us what we need, so might as well just do it all ourselves.

Brené shares her own story of asking her staff to gather survey questions so she could prepare for the next day’s session, but what they gave her fell way short of her expectations. It’s the age-old story we tell ourselves: no one is able to give us what we need, so might as well just do it all ourselves.

This mindset is incredibly unhealthy and inevitably leads to burn out. It limits us in every aspect of our work. It limits our capacity to work efficiently lead a team or work as part of one. It also limits collaboration, innovation and creativity—which can make or break a business or career. In her own story, Brené asks her staff again to gather the information she needs for the survey. Her staff asked paint done for us.

 

“It unearths stealth expectations and unsaid intentions, and it gives the people who are charged with the task tons of color and context. It fosters curiosity, learning, collaboration, reality-checking, and ultimately success,” Brown said. “We want people to share our commitment to purpose and mission, not to comply because they’re afraid not to. That’s exhausting and unsustainable for everyone.” Brené Brown

 

A leader is someone who will take the time to really communicate paint DONE. They share what their exact expectations are, and what is really needed, so that others can confidently deliver good work. Brené went back to her staff a second time and talked to them about what she needed and how exactly that should look. In the process of this conversation, her staff brought up an aspect of the task that she had not even thought of yet. In the end, she got a better result and her staff were happier in their work because everyone knew for certain how to paint DONE. 

Personally, I’ve found myself getting frustrated from time to time with helpful people who kept adding more work to my list of tasks. This concept of defining and sharing your expectations to paint DONE taught me that I was part of the problem. I was not opening up a dialogue about what exactly I needed and what I was expecting the finished project would look like. Have you ever found yourself not asking for help because you didn’t get what you needed when you asked in the past? Next time you ask for help, ask this question first: Paint done for me? Then share it with the other person!

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of Brené’s books to date, but as a new freelancer and entrepreneur, this book resonated with me the most. It has changed how I think about managing my time, work and those I collaborate with and lead. I highly recommend you add it to your reading list—but if you struggle finding the time to read these days, try the audiobook. You’ll find your commute becomes much less stressful and more productive!   

About the Author

Lisa Missenda

Lisa Missenda

With a lifetime of experience working in the creative industry, my passion is helping others craft an authentic and compelling brand that helps them reach their own creative potential. I am a photographer, graphic designer and musician. I help creatives create. Learn More…

 

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