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 groundbreaking 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.

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Evaluating Sales Training Programs

The success of your company can largely depend on your choice in sales training. Consider this — ATD collected information from over 2500 firms and found companies that offer comprehensive training enjoy a 24% higher profit margin than those who spend less on training.

With so many training options available, how do you weed through it all? It can feel overwhelming, so treat this post as your roadmap to helping your sales team deliver. But before you zero in on new training, consider the following when evaluating sales training programs.

 

Ease of Access

Accessibility is key. The more accessible a sales training program is, the more involved your team will be.

Accomplish this through a modern approach in delivery. Whether it be from their phone or tablet, if a sales rep can access training on the go, they’re more likely to complete it. A study by CLO Magazine reported 70% of employees surveyed felt more motivated to learn when they could access the training on their mobile devices, while 72% reported increased engagement with mobile learning.

As an added bonus, try putting the sales training in the same tool your employees use to sell to their customers, so they have anytime, anywhere access on a platform they are comfortable with. At Unboxed, we put that into practice through Hub 360. It allows our sales reps to save time by having everything they need right in one place, without switching back and forth between tools or apps.

 

Micro-learning

Along with accessibility, look for whether the training program delivers the information in bite-size courses, otherwise known as “micro-learning.”

The content needs to be crisp and concise to avoid information overload, which can result in a decrease in retention. We’ve found our best results when training courses are kept to 15 minutes or less.

Reps can also use these shorter courses as quick refresher training before they walk into a pitch. Hello, just-in-time training reinforcement.

If the training can be accessed on the go AND employees can get the specific content they need when they need it, it’s a win-win.

 

Time to Launch

When evaluating sales training programs, there are two primary types: off-the-shelf and custom-built.

Many foundational sales techniques such as overcoming objections and negotiation can be taught and reinforced through off-the-shelf sales training programs. Because of this, off-the-shelf programs can get you results fast and keep costs down.

However, if you’re willing to invest in custom sales training, you’ll get the advantage of training that’s contextual and on-brand, while tackling learning objectives relevant to your team. That relevance is amplified when the training ties the objectives to real-life scenarios. If that’s not convincing enough, a custom program typically has a shelf life three times longer than off-the-shelf sales training.

 

Sustainment & Reinforcement

One-and-done sales training kickoffs are a thing of the past. Sales training should be viewed as an ongoing process, with an emphasis on what will happen after. As investments in sales training continue to exceed $2 billion annually, the importance of retaining that investment cannot be overstated.
Consider gamification when evaluating sales training programs. According to Scientific American Magazine, 80% of learners say they would be more productive learning through a game.
Technology is also a major factor in sustained behavior change. Mobile gamification solutions help combat memory loss and increase retention as much as 24% within five days of the learner taking the course.

 

Social Knowledge

Your peers are your natural motivators. Depending on your relationship, you compete, learn, and thrive off one another. The ability to share knowledge with peers is critical when evaluating sales training programs.

The 70-20-10 model corresponds to a proportional breakdown of how people learn effectively, with 70% of their knowledge coming from job-related experiences, 20% from interactions with others, and 10% from formal educational events.
So, when choosing a program for your team, check for that 20% option, whether that be through a social learning platform, or the chance to practice their skills with one another in a game format.

 

Practice & Coaching

On a similar note, how effective will the training be if sales reps don’t have a safe place to practice what they’re learning? Manager and peer feedback is an integral part of any training, as it reinforces the learning for both the peer doing the action and the peer giving feedback.

In sales, being comfortable with delivery is half the battle. As part of your sustainment training, try scheduling one-on-one sessions with your manager where you can practice mock sales calls, or ask them about a time when they learned a valuable lesson during a pitch. It’s up to you to take advantage of their experience, and that’s something you want your sales training program to encourage.

 

Expertise & Results

You’ve checked for accessibility. You appreciate the convenience of splitting the content into short bursts. You’re excited by the gamification and social engagement opportunities. And you see the value in ongoing sustainment and reinforcement. But do the training providers you’re exploring have experience, expertise, and proven results in your industry?

Perhaps the most important factor to consider when evaluating sales training programs is looking for success stories and testimonials from companies similar to yours, specifically those who showed an increase in training completion rates, learner engagement, and of course bottom line ROI.

 

Stop Evaluating Sales Training Programs…

…and meet Unboxed.

At Unboxed, we check all of those boxes. Your products, services, and sales process are unique. Your sales training should be, too. That’s why our customized sales training programs deliver short bursts of engaging content that reps can access on demand.

So, when you’re evaluating sales training programs, consider what Unboxed can bring to your team — a conversational tone, modern design, and innovative technology. Sales training your team will actually love and want to complete. And of course, results that drive straight to the bottom line.
We’d love to connect with you and learn more about your business to see how our sales training programs can help. Leave a comment below or reach out to say hello.

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