Brave leadership is vulnerable and compassionate leadership
Daring to be awkward, leaning in to lead
Daring to be awkward, leaning in to lead
Leading is not easy. But having people doing it well is essential for every organisation, and it can make or break a great time. In this article Katja Egmose, EGGS Denmark’s country manager, shares her views on why bravery, vulnerability and compassion are crucial for successful leadership.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
Last week I spent two days with Roxanna Kia on her Impact Communicator course. I joined because I want to be able to communicate with clarity the change-making positive impact we are working to create together with our clients in EGGS Design. My experience at the course made me reflect about how easy it was for everyone to lean into that space and be authentic. How can we as leaders support and create more of these spaces in our own organisations? Here, I’ll share some of my reflection with you.
What struck me the most in the course was the immediate open and caring space that appeared between the participants from the beginning. These were people (leaders) who had never met before but who still, from the very first moment ,were showing bravery, authenticity, compassion and vulnerability. They were putting themselves out there and all awkwardness, tears and boundary pushing exercises were met with kindness. The message back to each and everyone was to keep pushing forward because ‘You are unique and amazing just the way you are’.
Being brave is about being vulnerable and daring to show that vulnerability and awkwardness. If you do that as a leader, and if you meet other people’s awkwardness with kindness, you encourage them to be authentic.Katja Egmose, Country Manager, EGGS Denmark
I am lucky to work in a company with leaders who demonstrate every day that it is possible to lead with compassion. It’s a leader team that helps the creative people in our company grow and fulfil their potential by supporting them with an environment based on trust and honest, caring, and concrete feedback. And this while always keeping the individual journeys in mind.
This trust-based, caring culture is the living dream of Ulla Sommerfelt, the CEO of EGGS Design. She established the foundation of the culture in EGGS with the guiding principle of leading with compassion and believes that “what people really need to be awesome at work, is autonomy, trust and leaders that truly care.” (You can check out her blog post and TEDx talk about this topic here.)
This, to me, is, essential in leadership. Trusting people, their capacity and their judgement, and meeting them with compassion, will bring out the best in them.
Over the years I have also been fortunate to have a strong group of men and women around me in my personal life, many of them leaders in different Scandinavian companies. This group of likeminded, authentic and caring people are there for each other, both when life and work is tough and when it’s great. We share our failures and support each other in being brave and authentic by asking questions to help each other grow. It’s incredibly valuable to share your experiences and learn from each other.
Generally, in the Scandinavian societies and companies, there is a lot of trust. But we can always improve, and we can always become better, more authentic leaders. One American voice out there on leadership that I admire, is that of Brenee Brown. She has written several books of the topic of leading with vulnerability and I highly recommend any leader to read them. “Keeping it awkward, brave and kind”, I believe her writings are not just useful in the workplace but also among friends and in any network. We could all use some some more awkwardness, bravery and compassion for each other in our lives.
My goal for the future is to keep an open heart and mind both as a friend and leader. To be brave enough to keep leaning into the personal and compassionate space and remember that all our creatives are truly unique and amazing.