The 3 Traits of Inspiring Everyday Leaders

It’s not about looking strong, it’s about showing up

The biggest misconception in leadership is that a leader must always be strong.

When Brené Brown comes home, she and her husband indicate their emotional levels with numbers. She calls it “the 80/20.” The idea is that as long as they can reach 100 together, they’re fine.

“Marriage is not something that’s 50/50. A partnership works when you can carry their 20, and they can carry your 20, and when you both just have 20, you have a plan where you don’t hurt each other.”

Sometimes, the strongest thing a leader can do is to admit they have no strength left at all. Then, they can ask for help and the group can figure out a way forward together.

Leadership is full of misconceptions. For over 20 years, Brené Brown has worked to clear away some of the fog. Dare to Lead is only one of her many bestselling books, but it shines a light on several leadership traps.

Here are 3 lessons to help you be an authentic, exemplary leader for others.

1. You can’t be courageous without being vulnerable.

Acts of courage are always accompanied by the feeling of vulnerability. That’s what Brené learned from talking to thousands of leaders in her career.

Brené says vulnerability is “the emotion we feel when times are risky and uncertain or we are at the mercy of other people’s actions.” Can you think of a time you were courageous that didn’t also involve this feeling? It’s hard, right?

Whenever we choose courage, we also choose vulnerability. That’s what makes an act courageous: Acting in spite of fear, in spite of uncertainty, and in spite of the risk of loss.

Vulnerability is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength.

2. Focus on two core values to endure any adversity.

Values are the ideals we consider most important in our lives, like calmness, humility, compassion, freedom, justice, kindness, discipline, and honesty.

Writing down a list of your values is a great exercise, but Brené says it’s too easy to list too many of them and end up prioritizing none at all. She’s right.

My latest list has 12, and I often find myself going back to just the first two. Apparently, that’s a step in the right direction, according to Brené:

If you really want your values to guide you, focus on only two of them.

Two values are easy to fall back on when the going gets tough, and if one doesn’t fit the situation, the other most certainly will.

My primary values are calmness and rationality. If I’m not calm, I can’t act rationally, and if I don’t see a path that makes sense, it’s hard to stay calm. No matter how bad the situation, I can always try to calm down or think logically.

People who know their values can handle adversity. They have something to hold on to in dark times. Pick your two major values, and you’ll be more resilient and can do whatever’s necessary to move on with grace.

3. Form trust in relationships with “BRAVING.”

More than half of all people consider themselves above-average drivers — some of them must be wrong. Similarly, we all think of ourselves as trustworthy, yet we only confide in a small group of select folks.

The best way to be trusted is to trust others first. We must hand out “trust advances” to receive trust in return. Brené knows seven ways how, and you can remember them with the acronym “BRAVING”:

  1. Boundary-setting. Always clarify and respect each other’s limits.

  2. Reliability. Keep your word, and you’ll inspire others to keep theirs.

  3. Accountability. Everyone makes mistakes. But not everyone admits them. Admit them.

  4. Vault-closing. If you don’t break my confidentiality, I won’t break yours.

  5. Integrity. Whatever your two core values are, never compromise them.

  6. Non-judgementBe curious instead of judgmental, and you’ll turn isolation into connection.

  7. Generosity. Leave room in your interpretations and expectations, and others will feel safe in turning to you.

Take the first letter of each word. BRAVING. Remember this acronym, and you’ll be able to choose one of these behaviors in difficult situations that require communication to be resolved.

Let them give you the courage to lead.


Dare to Lead dispels common relationship myths to show you that true leadership requires vulnerability, integrity, trust, and resilience.

Here are three lessons worth remembering:

  1. Courage and vulnerability always go together. Be vulnerable to be courageous.

  2. If you can narrow your core values down to just two, you’ll be able to navigate even the toughest of times.

  3. There are seven trust-forming behaviors, and they can be summed up in the acronym “BRAVING.”

“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

— Brené Brown


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