Why Fierce Leaders get Real

Have you heard of Brené Brown yet? If not, you’re lucky, because you have a whole wealth of insight, honesty and self-reflection in your future. Wolf & heron has an admittedly intense intellectual and authentic girl-crush on the scientist and empathy expert. But as I expect we’ll write a future post called, Why Stephanie and Kara love Brené Brown, we’ll save the heart eyes for later.

In the meantime, we bring her up because Brown often speaks of authenticity and vulnerability as foundational to connection. True connection only comes by exposing ourselves in a way that feels vulnerable to us, and allowing someone else to be with us in that vulnerability (that’s empathy, in case you’re wondering). That interplay between vulnerability and empathy is what allows us to connect with each others’ authentic selves… and that’s one of the few real things left in this world.

As Fierce Leaders, we must practice vulnerability and authenticity in our relationships - not just at home but all throughout our WorkLife - our peers, our managers, team members, employees, customers, associates and so on. As I like to say, “It’s time to get a bit awk.” What Stephanie always likes to point out is that the more comfortable you get with awk, the less awk it becomes.

At wolf & heron, we do this in many ad-hoc and structured ways.

  • Monthly lessons learned (failure) discussion
  • Acknowledging our angst and frustration (even with each other) out loud and asking for help to navigate through it
  • A uniquely effective communication routine filled with the honesty and love possible with someone you’ve gotten to know incredibly well as professionals and as people
  • Ongoing conversations about our personal visions, strengths and interests

The gift of all this vulnerability will be richer connections built on integrity and trust. Those relationships will be strong and have the side-benefit of increasing your influence because the people around you will know that you’re not just there for yourself, you’re on their side too and you’re in it with them.

So, how do Fierce Leaders get Real? Basically, it all comes down to being vulnerable - This is uncomfortable, but there’s so many wonderful ways to do it!

  • Share something honest about yourself with others (more deep than your favorite color)
  • Admit when you’re not perfect/Ask for help (while this might fill you with fear, the person on the other side is likely to appreciate the ask and will turn into a champion for you)
  • Try something new (don’t be afraid to play and learn in a new space)
  • Make sure it’s two-sided and get to know the real humans around you

Related blog posts:

- Kara Davidson, Co-Founder, wolf & heron

Bonus ideas for how to fan girl/boy Brené Brown:

  • TED Talk

  • Empathy animation

  • Her books! We rec starting with her big-three trilogy: The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, and Rising Strong. Read them in any order, but that’s the order she wrote them in, so you can go along the same journey she went through to codify, and tighten her articulation around the topic.

A caveat:While we believe that Fierce Leaders are real and authentic and share personal things about themselves, it goes without saying (even though, obviously, right here, we’re saying it) that there are limits to what is appropriate (especially in the workplace or in a professional setting). Be an adult, use your judgment. For most of us, we’re not open enough and could share a bit more of ourselves to connect more authentically… but there are always the few random over-share-ers who take it way too far and, when meeting you for the first time, mention the time they got drunk on a cruise and ended up with a naked lady tramp stamp tattoo. To learn more about specific compliance or regulatory boundaries - especially in a professional setting - it can be helpful to speak to a lawyer or HR Professional.