My wife’s new best friend is Brené Brown.

Not really best friend—except for exchanging a few tweets with Dr. Brown, she doesn’t know her. (I don’t think she gets to call her “Brené” yet.) But my wife is a new devotee to Brené Brown’s work on connection, vulnerability, and unlocking the potential within all of us.

Part of Dr. Brown’s leadership manifesto—from her book Daring Greatly—is that above all else, as leaders, we must “show up, let yourself be seen, and be courageous.”

That’s a pretty good summary of Values Based Leadership:

Show up.  Leadership is a full contact sport. If we are distracted, disengaged, completely consumed by tasks and otherwise not paying attention, we are going to miss opportunities to lead our teams. I know when I’m more focused on my to-do list than the needs of the people around me, my effectiveness as a leader plummets.

Be seen.  Being seen is more than being visible; it’s being our imperfect but authentic selves. Tell others what you get right AND own what you don’t get right. My team knows what I screw up, and they give me credit when I get it right. But they still want to hear it from me—they want to know that I know. Vulnerability is a strength, and a crucial piece of building trust with others.

Be courageous.   Tell others what you stand for, and then act on it. Being courageous means knowing our values, then standing for them—even when there is a personal cost.  We all get scared—if I speak up, will they think I’m stupid? If I do this, and I fail, will they fire me? But we can’t lead from a place of fear:  fear leads to disconnection and playing small, two leadership killers. Drawing strength from our values gives us the courage to take risks, and otherwise dare greatly. (It’s also the secret to sleeping well at night.)

Check out Brené Brown’s excellent TED talk here:

Check out Brené Brown in this RSAShort as an animated bear here:


Tom Epperson

Tom Epperson

Dr. Tom Epperson is the President of InnerWill, and an instructor in Virginia Commonwealth University’s Executive MBA program. Tom is a certified business coach and has a Doctorate in Leadership from The George Washington University. Tom works with clients on cultural transformation, leadership development, executive coaching, and igniting individual and organizational potential. Previously, Tom served as the HR Director for Luck Companies, and played a significant role as one of the architects of Luck Companies’ cultural transformation.

close slider

    Subscribe to the InnerWill email for inspirational stories and tips on how to build engagement, trust, and success at work and beyond – delivered right to your inbox every Monday morning!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.