[YS Learn] The three pillars of leadership, according to Brene Brown (2023)

With businesses floundering in the current coronavirus crisis, leaders are now shifting their views. Many are introspecting on why their business is more important than ever before and how to pivot with the changing times. The focus is on doing everything possible to ensure that their businesses survive to see another day, and come out unscathed.

Many investors, mentors, and leaders have emphasised that now is time to be a ‘wartime CEO.’ It’s a terminology popularised by Ben Horowitz’s book - ‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things’.

[YS Learn] The three pillars of leadership, according to Brene Brown (1)

However, while every leader and entrepreneur is drawing up metaphorical battle lines, the time also calls for taking a pause and leading differently. While you put on your armour to face your battles, Brene Brown – author, researcher, and public speaker – adds it would also be of great help to take that armour off from time to time.

With research and data, she has pointed out that leadership is about vulnerability, shame, and empathy. For over a decade, Brene has been speaking about the power of vulnerability, which she adds cannot be separated from courage.

In her book, ‘Dare to Lead’, Brene adds that courage is a collection of four skill sets that can be taught, observed, and measured. The four skill sets are: rumbling with vulnerability, living into our values, braving trust, and learning to rise.

These mean you need to start by embracing vulnerability, which opens you to have tough conversations, build trust, and move ahead towards your organisational goals as a team.

(Video) The power of vulnerability | Brené Brown

The key leadership lessons that Brene gives in her book are:

Embrace vulnerability

In her book, Brene quotes,

At the heart of daring leadership is a deeply human truth that is rarely acknowledged, especially at work - courage and fear are not mutually exclusive. Most of us feel brave and afraid at the exact same time. We feel vulnerable. Sometimes all day long. During those ‘in the area’ moments that Roosevelt described, when we’re pulled between our fear and our call to courage, we need shared language, skills, tools, and daily practices that can support us through the rumble.”

Entrepreneurship is a hard road to tread. There will be disappointments and setbacks. While many may choose to put on armour, and keep a brave face, Brene adds, it is also important to show your human side and vulnerability.

This opens you to engage with different situations and also enables you to consider innovative ideas and solutions provided by your teammates. The first step is the willingness and the ability to rumble with vulnerability.

Respect your team enough to have tough conversations

Brene adds - “Once we start to build vulnerability skills, we can start to develop other skill sets.” Rumble, in this context, is a discussion, conversation, or meeting defined by a commitment to lean into vulnerability.

Brene adds that through research it was found that most people avoid tough conversations. This includes giving honest and productive feedback. During her research, she found that leaders had attributed this to – lack of skills and courage, as many prescribe to the norm of being ‘nice and polite.’

Unfortunately, what this does is reduce trust and engagement, create a lack of clarity, and increase problematic behaviour such as back-channel communication, passive-aggressive behaviour, and gossip.

(Video) Brene Brown Leadership Tips

Thus, to build courage in teams, it is important to have tough conversations. More often than not it is the lack of clear communication that harms organisations. With tough conversations, come vulnerability and the openness to accept it.

Be connected with your team

Brene says in her book: “A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.” She explains that to build daring leadership and courage in organisations and teams, it is important to create a culture in which brave work is rewarded.

Leaders must care for and be connected with the people of their team. In all the data that Brene gathered, it was found that care and connection are irreplaceable and irreducible requirements for productive and happy relationships between leaders and team members.

“This means that if we do not have a sense of caring toward someone we lead and/or we don’t feel connected to that person, we have two options – develop the caring and connection or find a leader who’s a better fit. There’s no shame in this – we’ve all experienced the kind of disconnection that doesn’t get better despite our strongest efforts. Understanding that commitment to care and connection is the minimum threshold, we need real courage to recognise when we can’t fully sever the people we lead.”

In a nutshell, it is important to hone and develop a culture of wholehearted engagement that comes out of embracing vulnerability. Any manifestation of fear-based leadership where armours are forced and thrust upon each individual, innovative work cannot be expected.

As Brene says, “You can’t fully grow and contribute behind an armour. It takes a massive amount of energy just to carry air around - sometimes it takes all of our energy.”

(Video) Brené Brown "Stop Giving Your Power To Critics" | Vulnerability and Shame | Motivation


What is leadership according to Brené Brown? ›

A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes and has the courage to develop that potential. Leadership is not about titles or the corner office. It's about the willingness to step up, put yourself out there, and lean into courage.

What are the types of leadership Brené Brown? ›

Vulnerability, clarity of values, trust, and rising skills are the four pillars of courageous leadership, according to Brené Brown, author, storyteller, and research professor at the University of Houston.

What is the best leadership quote by Brené Brown? ›

“The courage to be vulnerable is not about winning or losing, it's about the courage to show up when you can't predict or control the outcome.” “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.” “Daring leaders work to make sure people can be themselves and feel a sense of belonging.”

What are the key points in Dare to lead Brené Brown? ›

The truth couldn't be any further:
  • Daring leadership is born through vulnerability.
  • Without vulnerability there is no creativity or innovation.
  • Vulnerability means empathy and connection with other people.
  • You have to face vulnerability to learn.
  • Trust and vulnerability grow co-dependently, not separately.
Mar 29, 2019

What are the 3 most crucial concepts of leadership? ›

The actual definition of leadership is often debated. However, most definitions incorporate the three concepts of influence, power and motivation.

What are the four pillars of courage brene brown? ›

Brené Brown, as detailed in her book Dare to Lead, there are four skillsets for courageous leadership.
  • Rumbling With Vulnerability.
  • Living Your Values (Rather Than Simply Professing Them)
  • Braving Trust (And Being The First To Trust)
  • Learning To Rise.
Jan 10, 2019

What are the 3 foundations of leadership? ›

There are three (3) building blocks that form the foundation of successful leadership; Self-Awareness, People Awareness, and Culture Dynamics.

How can I be a good leader Brene Brown? ›

The key leadership lessons that Brene gives in her book are:
  1. Embrace vulnerability.
  2. Respect your team enough to have tough conversations.
  3. Be connected with your team.
Jul 2, 2020

What is Brene Brown's favorite quote? ›

You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” Remember: Love should come from within. Here are some self-love quotes that will make you feel like a million bucks.

What is the best brene brown quote for work? ›

"The biggest shame trigger at work, is the fear of irrelevance." “When people don't know their value they're hustling for their worth.” “We're not having tough conversations.” "When you're able to be brave and afraid, it's when you know you're alive."

What are the 4 C's of leadership? ›

The importance of the four C's in leadership: Candor, Commitment, Courage and Competence are necessary to maintain strong and effective soldiers. A reflection of a good leader shows in his followers.

What are the 4 principles of leadership? ›

This theory is what he refers to as values-based leadership, which is comprised of four principles:
  • Self-reflection.
  • A balanced perspective.
  • True self-confidence.
  • Genuine humility.
Nov 10, 2015

What are the 4 fundamentals of leadership? ›

We call them the Fundamental 4:
  • Self-awareness: Understand your behavior's impact on organizational outcomes.
  • Communication: Effectively communicate goals and inspire trust.
  • Influence: Be comfortable persuading, promoting, and delegating.
  • Learning agility: Know when to change course, and help others to do so.

What are the 4 definitions of leadership? ›

Affiliative: Leaders create emotional bonds and harmony. Democratic: Leaders build consensus through participation. Pacesetting: Leaders expect excellence and self-direction. Coaching: Leaders develop people for the future.


1. Brené Brown | The Most Eye-Opening 14 Minutes Of Your Life
(Let's Become Successful)
2. Brené Brown on Blame
3. Brené Brown: Vulnerability, not over-sharing
(60 Minutes)
4. Brené Brown Reveals Which Four Skill Sets Make the Best Leaders
(The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon)
5. The One with Brené Brown | A Bit of Optimism with Simon Sinek: Episode 27
(Simon Sinek)
6. Brené Brown / The ANATOMY of TRUST
(Fearless Girl)
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