In April 2021, Veterinary Woman and XLVets collaborated to run the Daring Veterinary Leadership event, which was designed around the leadership research from Brené Brown and focused on discussions surrounding veterinary women in leadership.

Daring Veterinary Leadership followed on from the first veterinary women in leadership event, and included an interactive workshop with Roxanne Hobbs of The Hobbs Consultancy. Within the workshop, Roxanne, who is a qualified ‘Dare to Lead’ facilitator, discussed what it means to be a vulnerable leader, and how this can be incorporated into leadership within the profession. 

As part of attending the conference, all delegates received a copy of Dare to Lead by Brené Brown, and on the 30th June, XLVets hosted a follow up event – a book club discussing Dare to Lead. In the book, Brené Brown explores how to put the ideas of vulnerability within leadership positions, which encouraged many interesting discussions within the book club.

Who is Brené Brown?

Brené Brown is a US based research professor at the University of Houston. She has researched and studied vulnerability and is the author of several New York Times bestsellers, alongside hosting the podcast series Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead. 

In Dare to Lead, Brené outlines the skills required for brave leadership, and the following skills were discussed in detail during the recent Veterinary Women in Leadership book club:

  1. Rumbling with vulnerability
  2. Living into our values
  3. Braving trust
  4. Learning to rise

Rumbling vulnerability

Vulnerability is engineered from today’s work culture, in an attempt to increase efficiency of work. Having the courage to allow for vulnerability is essential to a successful, thriving work culture and environment. By not seeing vulnerability as a weakness, and instead seeing it as an asset for innovation, Brené discusses how this could be the pivot to successful and effective leadership. Having the courage to enter conversations that make you feel vulnerable is the essence behind rumbling vulnerability, and is an underpinning theme throughout the book.

Living into your values 

This skill allows you to identify what your values are and use them to guide how you live your life and how you behave. For a leader, this means being guided by what you believe is right, and being clear of your values and aligning your actions to those beliefs. 

Braving trust

This particular skill runs alongside vulnerability, rather than coming before it. Through incorporating trust within leadership, people can have confidence and transparency over a leader’s actions. Through showing trust in leadership, it cultivates an environment where people learn to trust and count on each other, and is continually built through vulnerability over time. 

Learning to rise

This final skills set outlined by Brown follows the idea of Carol Dweck, and her ideas of a fixed versus a growth mindset. The concept of learning to rise discusses how leaders deal with things when they go wrong, and how they can effectively respond to difficult situations.

dare to lead daring veterinary leadership

Armoured vs. daring leadership

The Veterinary Women in Leadership book club also centred discussions around different forms of leadership. Brené Brown outlines the biggest barrier to leadership as armour, and how we use this as protection in times of uncertainty. But what exactly is the difference between armoured and daring leadership?

Armoured leadership describes a person who leads as if they are going into battle, which results in outcomes of reduced productivity and innovation within a team. Armoured leaders encourage perfectionist traits and promote fear and uncertainty amongst those they lead.

In stark contrast to armoured leadership, a daring leader is conscious of their own emotions, and are able to lead through empathy and compassion. Daring leaders then use these skills to communicate with the people they lead, and use vulnerability to guide them in their leadership. 

The Engaged Feedback Checklist

Feedback is a key part of leadership, and this formed another discussion during the Daring to Lead book club. The appropriate time for feedback can be tricky to work out. Should you give feedback as soon as possible, to ensure it is as helpful as possible? Or do you wait and allow time to calm down and evaluate the situation before deciding what to say and give feedback? It’s about finding the balance, and although working out the most appropriate time to give feedback can be extremely effective, finding the most appropriate time to give feedback can be more challenging. 

You can read the full feedback checklist here, which can help to provide guidance when giving feedback. 

If you’d like to find out more, you can still register for tickets to watch back the Daring Veterinary Leadership event here.

You can also find out more information about Brené Brown’s books and podcasts here. 

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