I have to admit that I did not know who the keynote speaker Brené Brown. I could tell from the buzz in the audience that she was well known and well thought of, so I paid attention. I am glad I did. I have also looked at some of her stuff online since #SHRM19. That made me pay attention even more.
Bravery and courage
One of Ms. Brown’s theme was bravery and courage. I have often mulled that subject over in my head a number of times. She said that her research on the topic has asked leaders the question “What is the future of leadership?” Consistently the answer has been “We need brave leaders who will re-humanize work.” Then she asked, “What actually makes a brave leader?” The answer is, according to Brown, “Brave leaders are never quiet about the hard things. They choose courage over comfort.”
In one of the videos I watched, Brown said that a turning point in her life was coming across a quote from Theodore Roosevelt, which also happens to be a favorite of mine. Roosevelt said:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”From an April 23, 1910 speech given in France. It would become known as The Man in the Arena Speech
Tweets from the audience
To give you an impression of the impact Brown had on the audience I give you some of the Tweets and what was captured by audience members:
- All courage requires vulnerability.
- We trust people who ask us for help, but we have orgs that don’t really allow people to ask for help.
- If you get down to fears and feelings you can get to the root cause”
- It’s not fear that gets in the way of courageous leadership, it’s our own armor.
- Leaders are called to choose COURAGE over COMFORT!
- Brave leaders are not quiet about hard things.
- Don’t ask people how to be brave if you haven’t taught them how to get back up
- Scarcity, cynicism, weaponizing fear, hustling for our worth perfectionism, scarcity are the armors that prevents from developing courage.
- The number one trust building behavior is asking for help.
As you can see from this small sample of comments Brown made an impression. She also got some gasps from the audience when she used a few swear words in front of an audience of HR people.
Many people later bought her new book Dare to Lead (Random House, 2018. It is one which comes highly recommended by many an HR professional. You can find it below. Also, is you want to read an excellent summary of her presentation I recommend the SHRM blog post by Dori Meinert.