4 Skills to Become a Brave Leader

Brave leaders and courageous cultures – these sound too good to be true. And yet, these are the need of the hour to succeed in a complex and fluid world. 

And now, let’s see what Dare to Lead – Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts by Brene Brown has in store for us. 

In her book, Brown presents the four courage-building skill sets you can adopt to become the best version of yourself.  The fear of failure and shame lead people to hold back ideas and avoid risks and tough conversations.

Not only does it stifle learning, but it also pushes creativity back to hinder success. Think of a moment you held back in a meeting because of being ridiculed.

According to Brown, fear and shame have an antidote – brave leaders willing to face uncertainty and vulnerability head-on.

And that’s not all.

These brave leaders teach their teams to do the same. So, let’s see the skills you need to become a daring leader.  And remember to pass on the light when you’ve captured it yourself.


4 Skills to Become a Brave Leader

  1. Rumbling with Vulnerability
  2. Living into Your Values
  3. Braving Trust
  4. Learning to Rise

1.   Rumbling with Vulnerability

Vulnerability is the feeling you get in the face of uncertainty and the risk of emotional hurt.  To build courage, you must learn to face your vulnerability.

A rumble is a conversation where people allow themselves to be vulnerable, which serves a higher mission. This means not hiding behind masks and armor to protect themselves and their self-interests.  

Rumbling with vulnerability is the core of daring leadership. You can only build an innovative culture when you expose yourself to risks and failures.

That’s why it’s crucial to face your fear and discomfort. Remember not to fall for the myths about vulnerability. 


6 Myths About Vulnerability 

Myth#1 Vulnerability equals weakness

Though vulnerability makes you anxious, it’s not a sign of weakness. It takes a courageous man to face vulnerabilities.

Real courage is about showing up even when in a vulnerable position. This can be anything from making a mistake to taking the wrong initiative. 

Myth#2 I don’t do vulnerability

When you pretend risks and uncertainty don’t exist, it allows your fear to drive you unconsciously. 

Myth#3 I can do it alone

Man is a social animal.

We’re naturally wired for connection and empathy.

So, it’s impossible to build meaningful relationships without vulnerability. 

Myth#4 You can engineer away the uncertainty or discomfort

You can’t avoid or eliminate the relational vulnerability.

Instead, you can only learn the skills to manage it. 


Myth#5 Trust must come before vulnerability 

Big, heroic acts don’t build trust. But small daily exchanges like paying attention to small things about each other or showing genuine concern does.

So, trust and vulnerability go hand-in-hand. 

Myth#6 Vulnerability equals disclosure

Being vulnerable doesn’t mean you have to disclose emotional or sensitive information. To rumble with vulnerability, you must set boundaries and create psychological safety.

Acknowledge that problems and uncertainties exist. Talk about the emotions surrounding those risks.

Listen to people’s questions and concerns. Create a safe space for people to work through their issues. 

In doing so, keep your square squad close to you. Your square squad includes people you can rely upon and trust. 

How to Rumble with Vulnerability?

The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek. 

Joseph Campbell

To become a courageous leader, you must confront the fears standing in your way. And one of the hardest things can be to deal with difficult conversations.

For example, you might shy away from giving or receiving feedback, addressing destructive behaviors, or poor performance. Ignoring these aspects makes it hard for your team members to bring up issues or articulate their feelings and concerns. 

Here are some tools to have an open conversation and rumble with vulnerability. 

  • Build a safe container to hold your conversations. Ask questions from your team members like:
  • What do you need to show up and do the work?
  • What will get in the way of you showing up and doing the work?
  • What does support from me look like?
  • Use permission slips to allow yourself to feel or do something challenging.

You can also apply the same as a team.

  • Don’t defend your views straight away.

Instead, be curious about where the other person is coming from. 

  • Allow people to express and own their feelings, but set clear boundaries. 
  • Call for a time-out if the rumble becomes unproductive, or you need time to think things through. 
  • Have the courage to share your thoughts and feelings. 

This last tip is often what leaders find the most difficult to implement.

Most leaders think that keeping emotions away from the workplace makes them more efficient.  But when you lock away your heart, you also lock away the gifts of empathy and emotional literacy. 

According to Brown, people wear 16 types of armor at the workplace to protect themselves from the fear of failure, being judged, misunderstood, or shamed.

Remember to switch each type with the best alternative to become a daring leader. For example, replace:

  1. Focusing on perfectionism with improvement
  2. Foreboding joy with practicing gratitude
  3. Numbing with gaining real comfort
  4. Winner-vs-loser mentality with embracing paradoxes
  5. Pretending to be a know-it-all with getting things right
  6. Hiding behind sarcasm with saying what you mean
  7. Using criticism with reward and contribution
  8. Exploiting power with using power to bring change
  9. Hustling blindly with rumbling with people to collaborate
  10. Leading with compliance and control with explaining the reason behind strategies, priorities, and tasks. 
  11. Using work hours to measure value with recognizing the value of play, rest, and recovery
  12. Tolerating a fit-in culture with building inclusive cultures
  13. Playing up uncertainty and fear with creating a safe space
  14. Focusing on personal credit with helping others
  15. Wasting time and energy by avoiding fear with addressing your fears
  16. Leading from hurt with confronting your vulnerability

You will stumble and fail when rumbling with vulnerability.

So, you must constantly adjust your approach as you unlearn and relearn.

If you stay curious and keep practicing, you’ll build grounded confidence to:

  • Uphold your values 
  • Respond with self-awareness

2.   Living into Your Values

Our values drive us to do courageous and uncomfortable things. Even when critics and cynics surround us, our values help us pursue our beliefs.

Living into your values means practicing what you preach. That means you must understand your values and think and act in alignment with those beliefs. 

Do this by:


Naming your core values

Your values must meet the following criteria

  • They define you
  • They reflect who you are at your best
  • They can guide you in hard decisions

Defining key support behaviors


  • Three behaviors that support each value
  • Three behaviors that you’re tempted to do and that contradict the value
  • An example of a time when you were fully living into the value

When you’re surrounded by shame, scarcity, and criticism, focus on two things:

Empathy – think of 1-2 people who know and support your values.

Self-compassion – support yourself the way you would support a loved one.

You can also operationalize values by identifying the observable and learnable behaviors that allow team members to live into their shared values. 

Now let’s pause to reflect upon the last time you had a meaningful conversation with a work buddy.

3.   Braving Trust

Meaningful relationships and team cohesion are impossible without trust. Yet, it’s hard to talk about trust.

We often zig-zag around it or talk in vague terms that lead nowhere. 

Use the BRAVING technique to break it down into seven specific behaviors:

  1. Boundaries – respect others’ boundaries.
  2. Reliability – do what you say you’ll do. 
  3. Accountability – own your mistakes, apologize, and make amends.
  4. Vault – don’t share things that aren’t yours to share.
  5. Integrity – choose what’s right, courageous, and aligned with your values, not what’s easy, fast, or comfortable. 
  6. Non-judgment – talk openly and honestly without judgment.
  7. Generosity – give others the benefit of the doubt. Interpret their intentions, words, and actions as generously as possible. 


4.   Learning to Rise

Learning to sky-dive is the fun part.  But you should focus more on learning to survive a hard landing.

Moreover, before sky-diving into vulnerability, equip yourself with the skills and systems to bounce back from failures. 

Brown divides the learning curve into 3 R’s:

  • The Reckoning
  • The Rumble
  • The Revolution


§  The Reckoning

  • Learn to recognize when you’re emotionally hooked and curious about what’s happening. 
  • Recognize the symptoms that tell you’re hooked.

They can be anything from replaying a conversation in your head, feeling intense physical or emotional sensations like knots in your stomach, anxiety, confusion, fear, or pain. 

  • Calm down and get curious about what’s truly happening. 
  • Slow down, breathe deeply, and count to 4 for each inhale and exhale. 
  • Ask yourself if you have enough information to freak out and if it will help you.
  • Give yourself permission to feel. 


·       The Rumble 

Create a shitty first draft (SFD) which is typically full of imaginary fears. Then, take control of your SFD by writing down your response, including your emotions, bodily reactions, thoughts, beliefs, and actions.

And be sure to include a reality check.

Consider what you must learn about:

  • the situation, including facts you have or lack and your assumptions
  • other people involved
  • yourself, including your role and the underlying reasons for your response

Identifying the gap between your stories and facts will allow you to take control of the stories instead of the other way around.  To rumble as a team, get everyone to write about their thoughts and feelings.

After that, define what you need to rumble about, the additional data required, and the key lessons you learned.


·       The Revolution

The only success that matters is what brings meaning and joy to you. 

In her book, Brown urges everyone to answer the call to courage, and support others to do the same.  As the collective courage in an organization increases, so will its chances for success. 

Do you want to learn more tips and tricks, business strategies, and life lessons? Then read more blogs by VideoMonks.