What Brené Brown Teaches Us About Effective Leadership Training

After recently finishing Brené Brown’s newest book, Dare to Lead, I already think it’s my favorite book of the year – and it’s not even summer yet! I resonated so much with this book personally, and as someone who professionally helps organizations grow their teams, it was hard to ignore what Brown’s message means for how we develop effective leadership training.

Brown defines a leader as “anyone who takes responsibility for recognizing the potential in people and ideas, and has the courage to develop that potential.”

Throughout the book, she answers the question leaders in organizations ranging from entrepreneurial startups to Fortune 50 companies are asking: How do you cultivate braver, more daring leaders, and how do you embed the value of courage in your culture?

What struck me was that I’ve always thought of courage as an inherent trait; however, thankfully for Brené Brown, I now understand it differently. In Brown’s words, “it is less about who people are, and more about how they behave and show up in difficult situations.”

And fortunately, courage is a collection of four skill sets that we can learn. Yes. Learn!

The four courage skill sets are:

  • Rumbling with Vulnerability
  • Living into Our Values
  • Braving Trust
  • Learning to Rise

Most effective leadership training today contain these four components. Let’s look more closely at how we can teach and develop these skills in our content.

 

Four Effective Leadership Training Components

1. Rumbling with Vulnerability

If we want to develop daring leaders that push our organizations forward, we must create environments where our leaders and teams can be vulnerable. Brown defines vulnerability as, “the emotion we experience during times of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” And I think we can all agree that in our work, we encounter at least two of these on a regular basis. After all, some of the most life changing inventions of all time – the lightbulb, air travel, and the iPhone – definitely didn’t come in the world without a little uncertainty and risk.  

Creating Psychologically Safe Environments  

Brown writes, “If we want to people to fully show up, to bring their whole selves including their unarmored, whole hearts – so that we can innovate, solve problems, and serve people – we have to be vigilant about creating a culture in which people feel safe, seen, heard, and respected.”

Google’s five-year study on highly productive teams found that psychological safety – team members feeling safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other – was “far and away the most important of the five dynamics that set successful teams apart.”

So, how do we train our leaders to create these kinds of environments? We need to train leaders on listening, honesty, and keeping confidence with a heavy emphasis on emotional intelligence.

We also need to teach that courage and fear are not mutually exclusive. You can feel brave and afraid at the same time. This is vulnerability and it’s okay. When our leaders are beating this drum and encouraging their teams to embrace these feelings, we’ll get innovation and creative-problem solving as a result.

We Need to Rumble

According to Brown, a rumble is a “discussion, conversation, or meeting defined by a commitment to lean into vulnerability, to stay curious and generous, to stick with the messy middle of problem identification and problem solving, to take a break and circle back when necessary, to be fearless in owning our parts, and to listen with the same passion with which we want to be heard.” 

And in order for our teams to rumble with vulnerability, we need to empower our leaders against rewarding armoring behaviors like blaming, shaming, cynicism, perfectionism, and emotional stoicism. It’s time to take the armor off, and when it’s laid to the side, we’ll get teams that can fully thrive and create ground breaking work.

 

2. Living into Our Values

Organizations and Leaders Need to Define their Values  

In the organizational development world, we hear about values a lot. Many of our organizations have them (if yours doesn’t, advocate to make them a priority), but how many of us have taken the time to define our own values? The foundation of effective leadership training should be helping your leaders intentionally define their values. Brown recommends having just two values. Why? Because according to her research, “The participants who demonstrated the most willingness to rumble with vulnerability and practice courage tethered their behavior to one or two values, not ten. At some point, if everything on the list is important, then nothing is truly a driver for you. It’s just a gauzy list of feel-good words.”

Translate Values from Ideals to Behaviors

It’s not enough for organizations and leaders to just identify values, we have to teach people the skills they need to demonstrate them. I think Brown explains it best when she says, “The reason why we roll our eyes when people start talking about values is that everyone talks a big values game but very few people actually practice one.”

And the proof is in the pudding, according to Brown, “Only about 10 percent of organizations have operationalized their values into teachable and observable behaviors that are used to train their employees and hold them accountable.” Yikes!

This means that our leadership training needs to clearly outline how the organization’s and leader’s values translate into specific behaviors. Here’s an example of what this looks like from Brown’s organization. “Be Brave” is the organizational value and below that are the three behaviors to support it.

Be Brave

  • I set clear boundaries with others.
  • I lean into difficult conversations, meetings, and decisions.
  • I talk to people, not about them.

3. Braving Trust

Without trust, we have no connection, and if we can’t connect, vulnerability has no place. Trust is so vital to our teamwork that in Fortune’s research done for the annual list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, they found that, “Trust between managers and employees is the primary defining characteristic of the very best workplaces.”

Brown takes our understanding of trust even further by defining the seven elements of trust (she calls this The BRAVING Inventory), so leaders have the language they need to give constructive feedback to their teams. She says, “Rather than rumbling generally about trustworthiness and using the word trust, we need to point to specific behaviors. We need to be able to identify exactly where the breach lies and then speak to it.” Your leadership training should be speaking to these seven elements too. 

The BRAVING Inventory – The Seven Elements of Trust

  • Boundaries: You respect my boundaries, and when you’re not clear about what’s okay and not okay, you ask.
  • Reliability: You do what you say you’ll do.
  • Accountability: You own your mistakes, apologize, and make amends.
  • Vault: You don’t share information or experiences that are not yours to share.
  • Integrity: You choose courage over comfort.
  • Nonjudgement: We can talk about how we feel and ask for help without judgment.
  • Generosity: You extend the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words, and actions of others.

4. Learning to Rise

Daring leaders also need resilience skills. Brown says, “We can’t expect people to be brave and risk failure if they’re not prepped for hard landings.” Effective leadership training wouldn’t be complete without content on these skills. Brown has created a process called Learning to Rise that outlines how to be resilient.

The Learning to Rise Process

  • The Reckoning: Knowing that we’re emotionally hooked and then getting curious about it.
  • The Rumble: Acknowledging the stories (often untrue and based on our fears and insecurities) we tell ourselves to make meaning of hard situations.
  • The Revolution: Taking off the armor and rumbling with vulnerability, living into our values, braving trust with open hearts, and learning to rise so we re-claim authorship of our own stories and lives is the revolution.

In the spirit of Brené Brown, I’ll be vulnerable with you. Writing this post was challenging! Dare to Lead is chock-full of wisdom that should not only impact how we create meaningful and effective leadership training for our organizations, but also how we personally lead ourselves and our teams. Brown gives us so much valuable information that can be applied to leadership training (definitely read the book for yourself), and the four components you just read about are what I think is missing from leadership training today. 

I’m so grateful for Brené Brown and the work she’s doing to help us step into daring leadership. When these tactics are incorporated into our leadership training, we’ll get the results we’re looking for and arm our leaders with the meaningful information and skills they need to be successful.   

Unboxed Saves the Holidays

Over the course of 2018, we were honored to partner with so many wonderful clients and make their training and sales enablement dreams come true. But one of our most important jobs came at the end of the year — a special request directly from the North Pole.

Watch the video to see how Unboxed saved the holidays.

Happy Holidays from Unboxed

From all of us at Unboxed, we wish you a very happy holiday season and a successful 2019.

Unboxed Holidays 2018

Custom Built for Unboxed: What A New Office Means for Our Team

Shifting from nice-to-have to need-to-have, office design is now a top tool in recruiting and retaining talent. In fact, a quarter of employees would go so far as to take a pay cut in exchange for better workspace. Today’s candidates expect to work in an environment that allows them to maximize their potential, a fact that hasn’t been lost on us as we continue to grow.

Movin’ On Up

This March we said goodbye to the business park we’d been in for the last five years and said hello to downtown RVA. We were in the land of fluorescent lighting, dark tinted windows, and limited lunch options and we knew we needed a change.

We kept our team informed throughout the entire process, sharing details as we scouted locations, asking for input on flooring and wall options, and polling employees to find out the amenities they wanted most. As our moniker alludes, we think outside the box. Custom is the name of our game, and that requires our team members to be creative on demand.

Light-filled and airy, our new space in The Bookbindery building on Broad Street was designed with those needs in mind. A stone’s throw from the Fan and Scott’s Addition, the office blends and embraces both the history and evolution of our city. The dining options are unmatched, and the potential for walking meetings only sweetens the deal.

Beyond Free Beer and Bean Bags

From the moment you walk into our new space, you’re met with collaborative energy. We have whiteboard walls to capture ideas and intentions, and a café that’s perfect for lunches with team members or weekly all-hands meetings, and plenty of spots to settle in for a quiet afternoon working in the sun.

For the floor plan, we opted for an open setup and took steps to ensure the creative process didn’t suffer as a result. We included huddle spaces and breakout rooms throughout the office to limit distractions—areas that also help account for changes in technology and mobile working preferences. The result is a diverse environment that allows employees more freedom and flexibility in where they work, think, create, and engage with one another.

See for yourself—with high ceilings, plenty of natural light, and Instagram-worthy exposed brick, the space is beautiful. We’ve got the requisite bean bags, leather couches, and fridge o’ (craft) beer, too. However, these features and perks do more than check the boxes of the latest list of office design trends. They allow us to work in a space that reflects who we are as an organization.

What Matters Most

We know that it’s not the office itself that makes our employees love the work they do and the business they do it for, though. That comes instead from finding satisfaction and progress in their roles, purpose in our products, and lasting and fulfilling connections with their colleagues and clients; those are the differentiators that matter the most.

Despite what awesome layouts and bonus amenities can do for talent retention, the reality of hiring smart, ambitious people like those that fill the four walls of Unboxed is that one day they may move on. That’s why whether it’s the first or last time an employee feasts their eyes on our exposed beams or sidles up to one of our standing conference tables, we want them to know they’re trusted, valued, and vital to our mission. This new office is just another way to reinforce that message.

These Time Management Hacks Will Help Your Team #Win

Every team I’ve ever worked with struggles with time management. While we attend meetings, answer emails, and respond to unexpected challenges, we yearn for professional development—the first to go in times of frenzied task-switching.

My team at Unboxed is no different. We want to produce high-quality results, deliver on-time and on-budget, and acquire new skills—so we have to find smart ways to manage our time and focus rather than multi-task. Here are five time management hacks that will help you and your team members meet deadlines and achieve your professional goals.

5-time-management-hacks

Hack #1: Plan your week

Time box: 30 minutes

My weekly planning process, inspired by Getting Things Done by David Allen, begins first-thing Monday when I get to my desk. It goes like this:

  • Review email using the 4D method: delete, do, delegate, defer. More about this in Hack #2.
  • Refresh Friday’s to-do list. Add any email items that need to be addressed today.
  • Prioritize professional development. Schedule time for continued learning. (And if that time is late Friday afternoon, it might not happen. Earlier in the week is often better.)
  • Update this week’s calendar. Add any personal appointments such as the doctor, dentist, kids’ functions, etc. Create space for focused work. Make sure there are no overlapping meetings, and if that can’t be done, start declining meetings based on priorities.
  • Email any out-of-office reminders. Communicate schedule changes with affected team members.

I used to plan for the upcoming week on Fridays. However, I found things often came up over the weekend that forced me to re-do the plan. Planning on Fridays also caused me unnecessary stress because I was thinking about next week’s work over the weekend, when I needed to be present for my family. Planning on Monday fixed those issues.

Hack #2: Review email with the 4D method

Time box: 10 minutes

I typically look at email three times a day—in the morning, after lunch, and close of business. The 4D method works like this:

  1. Delete when possible.
  2. Do what’s asked if it takes less than two minutes.
  3. Delegate if someone else should, or could, handle it.
  4. Defer the task to a better time if it takes longer than two minutes.

I disable email notifications so I can stay focused. My team knows if they really need me, they can call, text, or come get me.

time management hacks

Hack #3: Complete a daily debriefing

Time box: 15 minutes

Hack #3, a retrospective of the day, is important because it allows my brain to shut off on the evening. Here is the daily debriefing framework I use:

  • Log today’s accomplishments.
  • Identify any impediments, who can resolve them, and specifics that will help resolve them.
  • List things that need to be done tomorrow.
  • Review email.
  • Look for ways to improve. Ask:

What didn’t go as smoothly as it should have?
What can I do better tomorrow?

When we slow down and ask questions like, “Is there anything I can do that will improve mine and my team’s productivity going forward?” there’s a side-benefit: we foster company-wide process improvements.

For example, I was in a meeting last Friday, and I noticed another team member’s scheduling system was pretty time-intensive and cumbersome. I wanted to help, so I made a note of it during my daily debriefing. When I plan my next week (Hack #1), I’ll look for a free block of time we can use to collaborate on a better method—which will result in increased productivity for the company. Time management for the win!

After the daily debriefing, it’s time to turn off the work brain. Everything necessary for tomorrow has been written down, so there’s no need for it to consume any more brain space and energy today.

Hack #4: Unplug

Time box: Daily

It’s extremely important to come into work with a fresh set of eyes and a fresh brain. If you’ve had a chance to step away from your tasks, you’re less likely to get spun out, and you’re more likely to be free and creative.

Need more convincing? Read the article Darwin Was a Slacker and You Should Be Too. After an overview of Charles Darwin’s daily—and surprisingly pleasant—routine, it argues Darwin and his amateur scientist/author/social reformer/lawmaker contemporary John Lubbock weren’t accomplished despite their leisure; they were accomplished because of it. Alex Soojung-Kim Pang explains:

“…despite their differences in personality and the different quality of their achievements, both Darwin and Lubbock managed something that seems increasingly alien today. Their lives were full and memorable, their work was prodigious, and yet their days are also filled with downtime.”

Ernest Hemingway wrote from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz “worked as a civil servant,” and “mainly wrote fiction in the late afternoon, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.” Writer Alice Munro: 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.; and Gabriel García Márquez: five hours a day.

It’s better to come to work rested, refreshed, and ready to be in peak productivity mode. In a recent FastCompany article, Lydia Dishman explores Project: Time Off’s new report, The State of American Vacation. The report found that:

“…planning a vacation in advance led to better follow-through and using more of the time available to take off. Further, planning was responsible for a mood boost. Workers who planned their vacations resulted in increased happiness across nine factors, including professional success, financial situation, and their company.”

We should follow the example of accomplished men and women before us—and be willing to step away from our desks, go for a walk, and plan (and take!) vacations.

Hack #5: Gut-check meeting agendas

Time box: As needed

As a team, we plan most of our meetings (both internally and with our clients) at least two weeks in advance, generally during sprint planning. So, when I receive an ad hoc meeting invite, I immediately evaluate it. I ask:

  • Does it have an agenda?
  • Does it have clear goals or desired outcomes?
  • Is it as short as it could be?
  • Do I need to be there?

If the answers aren’t clear, I’ll ask the organizer, “Hey—what’s the agenda for this meeting?” Typically when someone sits down to write an agenda, they realize the meeting actually can be shorter, or the tasks can be accomplished in another way.

Continue learning

I love to read, and there are some great resources out there that can help you learn more about time management best practices. My personal favorites are Slack by Tom DeMarco, Getting Things Done by David Allen, and SCRUM: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland.

Share Your Time Management Hacks

At Unboxed, we love to find ways to help people be more productive in their jobs. So, if there are any time management hacks that have really helped you achieve your goals, please share ‘em in the comments below!

8 Funny Sales Videos That Will Have You ROFL

At Unboxed, we understand sales can be an exhausting and sometimes daunting profession. So, let’s take a break from the hustle and bustle and get a good laugh in. Here are 8 funny sales videos that will have you ROFL (That’s rolling on the floor laughing, in case you were curious.)

 

Sales Therapy

Sales Therapy by SalesMesh takes a humorous look at the long-standing relationship between sales professionals and their CRM. This hilarious power struggle comes to life when the two parties discuss their problems in a therapist session.

 

Sales & Marketing Alignment is Easier Than You Think

In far too many companies, sales teams don’t expect marketing to deliver qualified leads, and marketing teams don’t believe sales will follow up with them anyway. Watch as SalesForceUK depicts this all-too-common scenario by showing that marketing and sales don’t have to be best friends, but they can create alignment around common goals.

 

Monster Tips: Nailing the Handshake

Short. Simple. Sweet. This video by Monster comically shows all the wrong ways to shake hands in a job interview. We think the same rules apply when sales reps meet prospects and customers, too. Well done, Monster.

 

 

Sales in Real Life

Sales isn’t always everything it’s dreamed up to be. In our very own funny sales video, a sales professional works his way through the tough, sometimes awkward, and daily struggles in sales.

 

A Conference Call in Real Life

If you work in sales, you’re no stranger to conference calls. While more convenient than jet-setting across the country every day, there are so many things that frequently go wrong. See if you can relate to these common conference call woes in Tripp and Tyler’s funny video A Conference Call in Real Life.

 

Sales vs. Marketing Dodgeball

When your sales and marketing teams can’t stand the mere mention of the other, have them battle it out with a good old fashioned game of dodgeball. At least, that’s what Lattice Engines suggests. The following is based on one hot and humid afternoon where the struggle for who was right reached an all-time high.

 

Selling is Tough – Office Space Humor to Get You Through the Day

Let’s face it, selling can sometimes be tough. In this funny sales video, Sales Scripter pokes fun at all the scenarios sales people are confronted with in a style similar to the movie Office Space.

 

S*** Sales People Say

Sales people often get caught up saying cheesy things to make a sale. Check out Betts Recruiting’s hysterical interpretation of S*** Sales People Say.

Share Your Favorite Funny Sales Videos

Hopefully, this list of funny sales videos lightens your mood and helps you refocus your energy back on what you do best, which of course is closing sales. If you favorite funny sales video didn’t make the list, share a link in the comments.

N00b’s Log: My First Month at Unboxed

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. I decided I was going to be a writer when I was 14 years old and won my first poetry contest. Time passed—lots of time. Like so many writers out there, I relegated my creative ambitions to late nights after a full day at the office. I recognized that most people don’t get to channel their passion into their day jobs, and also that I’ve at least had the fortune to have some really great day jobs.

Still…I could never quite give up on my search for that creative role.

First 30 Days At Unboxed

Today, I’m the newest Content Strategist at Unboxed Technology. I work with an amazing team to create scripts, develop storyboards, and even direct my work on set. I made the leap to join the team a little over a month ago, and spoiler alert: I feel exceptionally lucky to be here.

How did I get here? Why did I make the leap? Let me start at the beginning.

I first read about Unboxed Technology in the Richmond Times Dispatch, where they were named one of the best places to work in the city. Richmond BizSense gave them a shout-out as #5 on their 2015 RVA 25. One thing led to another; soon I was perusing their team bios and watching the shorts they produced for the 48-Hour Film Project—I’ve always been a huge fan of the film fest, and these guys participate frequently. (They’re awesome—check out 2012, 2013, and 2015 videos).

This sounded like it could be the career I’d been looking for all my life.

Then, something crazy happened: they hired me! I had a chance to find out if this company was the one, and kept this log all about it.

Day 1

8:30 A.M. Almost to the office. During the interview process, I recognized Unboxed as a place where I could be myself, a company where I could grow, and a group of people I could really make friends with. Now I’m dealing with an acute bout of imposter syndrome. (There’s help for that, by the way: here are 21 tips).

Sweden-driving-switch

1967, the day Sweden changed from driving on the left side of the road to the right.

Short story: I’m nervous; change is scary.

9 A.M. I meet with the kind, funny HR manager, who helps me through my paperwork and puts me at ease.

Suspiciously at ease, now that I think about it. I’m on to her. The sooner I let my freak flag fly, the sooner they’ll root out whether or not I belong here.

10 A.M. My manager and I have our first onboarding meeting, and her friendly nature and conversation reassures me. We chat about what to anticipate over the next few weeks, and I feel relieved to see what’s expected of me up front: listen, learn, and be vocal when I have thoughts or questions. She introduces me around the office, and I meet the woman I’ll shadow over the next few weeks. Then they take me to lunch.

As we eat, they mention how glad they are I’m here. They’re approachable and down-to-earth.

Perhaps suspiciously down-to-earth.

3 P.M. Our monthly Content meeting falls on my first day. The team gathers around the table, cuts into a red velvet cake, and—what?—opens a bottle of champagne.

They pour me some.

I sit on my hands to keep from texting my friends; the team talks budgets, new initiatives, and upcoming projects.

4:30 P.M. My manager schedules another meeting to recap at the end of the day. She wants to ensure I’m comfortable with all the new information, and seems concerned with how I’m doing in general. I feel well taken care of.

5 P.M. No one’s challenged me to foosball. Yet. Still, I head out smiling.

Day 3

9 A.M. People continue to stop by to introduce themselves. They ask how I’m doing and whether I need help with anything. I’m good, though—I’ve already found my way to the unlimited snack room. These people love Cheez-Its even more than I do.

10 A.M. I begin shadowing my brilliant and talented colleague, who explains to me what she’s doing, helps debrief me after client calls, and takes an enormous amount of time out of her busy schedule to assist me. I feel I’m learning really quickly with her.

Training side note: shadowing is what’s up; I’m getting comfortable pretty quickly. Also, this is true generosity.

Suspiciously generous…?

2 P.M. I have a 1:1 meeting with the company’s co-founder. Will he know my name, what I’m doing here, or even have time for me? A: Yes, yes, and yes. He’s friendly and approachable, and it’s interesting to hear more of the company’s backstory as he makes an effort to get to know me better.

4:30 P.M. My manager and I recap again—this is how we end each day. The consistency is a lifeline after long days of meeting people and learning a lot of new information.

When I mention I’m nervous about interacting with clients or an upcoming project, she encourages me, and reminds me she’s confident in her hiring decision. I know she means what she’s saying.

I think I might love her.

5 P.M. No foosball yet. Still leave smiling.

Day 8

1 P.M. Today is my first full-office team meeting. I know my way around a staff meeting, so I bring my notebook, in order to work on my grocery list, and caffeine, no explanation necessary.

I expect a few boring policy updates, or maybe a silly team-building exercise. Instead, people settle onto beanbags or stretch out on the floor. Team members give peer shout-outs to others they feel have gone above and beyond, and one of our owners talks about the state of the company. If I hadn’t spent so long reading that team bio page, I wouldn’t even know who was in charge.

The discussion is friendly, conversational, and refreshingly transparent. Also, pretty fun. Sometimes I love being wrong…but now I’m over-caffeinated for no good reason, and spend the afternoon talking smack about foosball.

3 P.M. Lose at foosball.

Day 27

beige-cardigan

Also, they’re stuck with me now.

Nearing the end of my first month at Unboxed. Here’s my honest opinion: there hasn’t been a bad day. My suspicion has dissipated as I’ve realized this really is a great place to work, even when the work itself is demanding. I feel supported, and I haven’t once second-guessed my decision to join the team.

Even though I lose every time I play foosball, I wouldn’t want anyone to let me win. I came for the challenge—the camaraderie is the proverbial icing on the cake/ice cream social/Waffle Wednesday.

5 P.M. Leave a little frowny. Fridays just aren’t the same; I love my job so much I’m not in a hurry to leave. I’ve been working a long time—I know there’s no perfect job. But maybe this job is the perfect one for me.

Want to join the Unboxed team? Take a look at our open positions and let us know if you think you’re a good fit.