Rumbling with the Vulnerability

If you know anything about us BarnRaisers, you know that we give a shit. This tagline isn’t just for shock and awe – did you hear that consultant cuss! – but is an authentic guiding principal. We care deeply about not only our clients but also about building a better world. Which is why we will only take on clients who are committed to making the world a better place.

As a team, we’re committed to gaining insights and tools to help us serve our clients better. From classes to conferences to reading, we’re always finding ways to remain an effective resource for those we’re working with. And, because we give a shit about our clients – current, past and future – we thought what better way to help than to pass on some of this knowledge on to you? With that in mind – welcome to our inaugural BarnRaising Bookclub, where each month we’ll share insights we gained from a book we’ve delved into.

For our inaugural post, we’re a little red in the face, as we’re a bit late on this particular bandwagon. Which is crazy, because 1) we love Brené Brown and 2) we preordered Dare to Lead, meaning we had it ready to go the moment it dropped. Yet, we didn’t dive in and geek out like we always do. We think the reason for that was that we weren’t quite ready to grapple with the crux of the book: vulnerability – especially when it comes to our professional sphere.

Like most people who read this book, each BarnRaiser Associate has encountered leaders of all shapes and sizes. They’ve been the dictators, the mentors, and the mediocres. In the moment, there have been leaders we wish we never knew. But with reflection, we’ve come to accept that we learned as much – if not more – from the not-so-great leaders as we have from the amazing ones.

Before cracking the spine we knew that Dare to Lead was going to make us face two terms we’d often saw as juxtaposed rather than complementary: vulnerability and leadership. We knew Brené was going to get real with us leaders, that she was going to hold a mirror and make us examine our reflections – and she didn’t disappoint. Some favourite callouts?

1. Courage and fear are not mutually exclusive
2. Who we are is how we lead
3. When we define ourselves by what everyone thinks, it’s hard to be brave

And those are within the first 100 pages. Yea. Self-reflection is mandatory when reading Brené. But, shouldn’t it also be mandatory when you’re in a position of leadership?

Within the book Brené weaves scientific research, personal anecdotes, and case studies to illustrate her point: to be an effective leader, we’ve got to let our guards down and be real with our team. We have to be vulnerable. Which is scary.

While the book is filled with lots of tips and tricks on how to dance vulnerably and rumble effectively with yourself, your team and a project, there was one that was easy to put into practice: TASC – Task Accountability and Success Checklist

TASK – who owns the task? That is, who is going to do that work? Name the person, and let it belong to them.
AUTHORITY and ACCOUNTABILITY* – give the task holder both the authority to act and make decisions, and be ready to hold them accountable for their work.
SUCCESS – have we done everything we need to (time, resources and clarity) to ensure a rewarding/positive outcome?
CHECKLIST – outline the steps and actions required to accomplish the task, including a definition of what done looks like

Through TASC, teams – including teams that work remotely – are able to transparently work through projects, and collaborate to achieve a shared vision for success.

In Dare to Lead, Brené does what she does best. Through personal stories, sound research, replicable tools and a dash of humor, Brené makes a tough concept – vulnerability in leadership – not only easy to understand but practically applicable in all settings.

*Sidenote: One of our Associates once worked in a place where they had zero authority and 100% accountability on projects. The result? A mess. This was one of those instances of horrible leadership where they hated every minute of going into work, but in retrospect was able to see just how much was learned: namely how not to run things. Brené’s TASC has provided this Associate with a simple, actionable plan to help make sure that does not happen again – both at BarnRaising and within our clients’ organizations.

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