From the Blog

Susan Mann shares how to dare greatly in the workplace

Last week, we hosted a webinar on daring greatly in the workplace featuring Susan Mann, Chief Learning Officer of Brené Brown Education and Research Group. Susan focused on how we can re-humanize the workplace with courage and vulnerability. Throughout the discussion, she shared relevant quotes that inspired and encouraged everyone to dare greatly.

A particularly standout quote that she shared was an African proverb “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Too often we don’t ask for help — and end up becoming a one-person army. But if we want to achieve long-term success (both professionally and personally), we have to find friends to help us along the journey.

Susan also emphasized the importance of unplugging from the world a few times a year. She happily relayed that she goes on vacation twice a year to a location that doesn’t have WiFi. Instead of plugging in, she connects with herself and the natural world. Susan emphasized we have to be more than our job title. As Anna Quindlen eloquently put it: “You cannot be really first-rate at your work if your work is all you are.”

We concluded the webinar with an interactive Q&A. HR leaders asked tough questions to Susan, who responded with kind and thoughtful responses. In case you missed it, we’ve compiled a few standout exchanges below:

Q: How can I re-humanize the workplace? How do I break through the mindset of “we’ve always done things this way?” How do I incorporate Brené Brown’s work into my job?

Susan: Go together. Look for allies. Ask: “Where can I find people in the organization who believe in what I believe in and who I can partner with to make changes?” Find other voices to amplify your message. Look for ways to experiment like starting a Daring Greatly book club. Open a dialogue with others in your company. In one company, after we had a book club, our employees started using the term “daring greatly” regularly as a way to ask for open-minded support. People regularly prefaced their bold ideas or unpopular opinions by saying “I’m daring greatly” and it really caught on.”

Q: How do we have hard conversations with our employees? How do we ask for assistance?

Susan: Have the conversation yourself with the employee before you bring in your boss as a last resort. Demonstrate that you have the courage and the interpersonal skills to resolve conflicts with others. For example, let’s say an executive thinks his assistant isn’t dressed professionally. The executive should have the conversation themselves instead of outsourcing their leadership responsibilities to HR leaders. HR leaders can dare greatly by coaching the executives on how to have these tough conversations themselves.

Q: How do I get an executive sponsor to begin daring greatly?

Susan: It’s invaluable to get an executive sponsor and aligning with your organization’s strategy is important At the same time, if you can’t get a sponsor, don’t use that as an excuse to avoid moving to action. Look for allies and peers that will help build support and make incremental changes where you can. Find a division or team to help champion your cause. Spark interest and build momentum one step at a time. That adds up in positive ways and could lead to executive sponsorship down the road.

Q: As an HR department of one, it’s hard to build leadership credibility with executive team. They’re very set in their ways. What do I do?

Susan: This might feel like pushing a boulder up Mt. Everest. Can you find one ally on the leadership team? It’s good to ask yourself: “Am I going to try to shift the organization, adapt to the organization, or move to another company if my personal values aren’t aligned with the organization?”