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3 questions you should ask yourself before becoming a manager, according to a social scientist who's spent 2 decades studying leadership and empathy

Published by Business Insider on Fri, 27 Nov 2020

<p><strong><img src="https://static5.businessinsider.com/image/5fbc1aa050e71a0011556eab-2400/1W6A7413_PhotoBy_Kara_Trail.jpg" border="0" alt="Bren Brown." data-mce-source="Courtesy of Bren Brown"></strong></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p>Leaders shouldn't be afraid to admit they are struggling.&nbsp;</p><p>In fact, the best leaders are open about their weaknesses. They're not afraid to learn and grow from others, even if they're in a position of power.&nbsp;</p><p>That's according to prominent social scientist and leadership expert Bren Brown, who said leaders shouldn't be afraid to have honest conversations, even if it means revealing their imperfections.&nbsp;</p><p>Brown is a research professor in social work at the University of Houston and has authored five New York Times best-sellers, including <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Dare-Lead-Brave-Conversations-Hearts/dp/0399592520'tag=bisafetynet2-20">"Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts."</a> and <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Braving-Wilderness-Quest-Belonging-Courage/dp/0812985818/ref=sr_1_1'dchild=1&amp;keywords=%22Braving+the+Wilderness%2C%22&amp;qid=1605133364&amp;s=books&amp;sr=1-1&amp;tag=bisafetynet2-20">"Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone."</a> She has also consulted companies including Pixar and IBM. Her <a href="https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_the_power_of_vulnerability'language=en">Ted Talk on vulnerability</a> has more than 50 million views.&nbsp;</p><p>Last month, Brown launched a new podcast, "Dare to Lead," which explores her research on what a courageous leader looks like in the workplace. Ahead of the podcast launch, Business Insider spoke with Brown about what it means to have courage and the skills anyone can use to become a better leader.</p><p>Here are the three questions Brown said you should ask yourself before taking on a new leadership role.&nbsp;</p><h2>Am I brave'&nbsp;</h2><p>While researching courage, shame, and vulnerability, Brown interviewed 150 leaders from a range of industries. She said that nearly every single one pointed to the same finding: companies need braver leaders.&nbsp;</p><p>"Courageous leadership is the primer and the top coat for any other strategy that you want to implement in your organization," Brown said.&nbsp;</p><p>But Brown's definition of bravery doesn't necessarily look like the heroic, bold act we might expect. According to Brown, brave leadership can be as subtle as the willingness to give and receive difficult feedback, or bouncing back after a setback or failure.</p><p>This holds true now, as leaders are faced with a number of different challenges during the pandemic. While it might be tempting to let fear to inform your decisions, Brown said, remember to stay vulnerable and be willing to learn.&nbsp;</p><p>"I think the question is, during a time of great uncertainty, have you been able to build and maintain a culture where armor is neither rewarded or required'" Brown said.&nbsp;</p><p>The "armor" Brown refers to can mean many things: it can look like resisting constructive feedback or pretending to have complete knowledge of a particular subject.&nbsp;</p><p>Armor can prevent leaders from growing on a personal and professional level, and cause their teams to stagnate. That's why having the bravery to set that armor aside and have tough conversations is crucial for an organization's success.&nbsp;</p><h2>Do I put my team first'&nbsp;</h2><p>Most organizations will tell you they are taking good care of their team, but in reality, their main focus is the client, Brown said.&nbsp;To be a good leader, you have to put your team first.&nbsp;</p><p>"Our primary focus has to be on taking care of the people we work with so that they, in turn, can do their jobs," Brown said.&nbsp;</p><p>And this doesn't just mean making sure they complete their tasks; it also involves ensuring that they're able to manage stress.&nbsp;</p><p>It's important to check in with employees regularly. In a recent <a href="https://hbr.org/2020/08/8-ways-managers-can-support-employees-mental-health">Harvard Business Review study with Qualtrics and SAP</a>, nearly 40% of global employees said that no one at their company asked them how they were faring. Those respondents were also more likely to report poorer levels of mental health. Caring for a team can take many forms, but it can even be as simple as a manager asking an employee if they're doing okay.&nbsp;</p><p>"People are weary, burnt out, scared, and uncertain; we need to attend to fears and feelings in a meaningful, empathic way," Brown said.&nbsp;</p><h2>What are my flaws'&nbsp;</h2><p>Becoming self aware requires an understanding of how you respond in moments of fear.</p><p>"I have never worked with a truly transformational leader who does not have an exceptional level of self-awareness," Brown said.&nbsp;</p><p>Brown said leaders should ask themselves what kinds of armor they are using to keep themselves safefor example, resorting to perfectionism, or insisting on having knowledge on things instead of soliciting help.&nbsp;</p><p>Those are questions you should ask yourself all the time. Self-examining questions might mean that you uncover weaknesses or vulnerabilities, but these will ultimately you grow. For example, they might find that you're experiencing feelings of fearand that's okay.&nbsp;</p><p>Fear is a common experience right now, but it's possible to feel fear while still acting with courage.&nbsp;</p><p>"We can make choices that keep us aligned with our values and keep us intentionally centered in bravery. That's the call of a leader."&nbsp;</p><p><strong>SEE ALSO:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/brene-brown-biden-trump-vulnerable-self-aware-leadership-role-model-2020-11" >Joe Biden is an excellent example of 'vulnerable' leadership, says prominent social scientist Bren Brown. Here's what that means, and how anyone can emulate the quality.</a></strong></p><p><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/brene-brown-leadership-manager-characteristics-successful-leader-challenges-2020-11#comments">Join the conversation about this story &#187;</a></p> <p>NOW WATCH: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/how-symphony-seas-worlds-largest-cruise-ship-deals-with-waste-2020-3">How waste is dealt with on the world's largest cruise ship</a></p>
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