Professional Development Opinion

Lead From Your Core

By Starr Sackstein — February 18, 2019 3 min read
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Sometimes the simplest things that are right in front of us are hardest to see, yet when we read and/or have conversations with people, a trigger happens, and suddenly we have unlocked potential we didn’t know existed.

When things like this happen, it’s hard for me to contain myself as I’m always looking to grow and I never know where that learning will come from.

Recently, I find myself excited to have any moment to listen to Brene Brown’s book Dare to Lead. Aside from her voice resonating so profoundly with what I believe on many issues, I am leaning into a lot of the lessons she shares and wanting to challenge myself to be more daring and present in my current role.

Somewhere in the middle of the audiobook, I realized that prior to her book, all the leadership books I read or listened to with little exception were written by men. And that isn’t to say I didn’t learn valuable things for each of those experiences, but there was something about learning more about leadership from a woman.

One of the things she talks about is leading from your core. Narrowing down the values you have and focusing on how they determine how you lead. She mentions a useful exercise where you list the values you think that motivate you for whatever reason and then, start narrowing it down to your core level.

So at first, I threw ideas around connection, transparency, honesty, compassion, and integrity. They all seemed pretty spot on. Brene talks about faith and how that ties into her family and the other core values she felt were integral to her core.

Since these words were the ones that came up first, I narrowed them down from there to connection and transparency because those seem to encapsulate the others. For examples, connection brings in honesty, compassion, and care. In order to be truly connected to the people I work with, my family and friends, or even people I meet briefly, I need to be present and open with them to be the best version of myself.

Transparency also encompasses the other values of integrity and honesty because to be truly transparent, you need to have integrity and honesty. Being an educator and now a leader, I’m committed to sharing the truth of my experience, whether that is positive and snaps-worthy or challenged and learning-worthy. Truly believing that sharing these intimate truths about my learning experiences makes for a more open and trusting environment maybe even inspires others to do the same.

At my core, I’m about learners, myself included. Every opportunity is a chance to practice, reflect, and grow and as I’ve listened to the book, I find myself wondering how I can bring more of this into our learning spaces without intimidating people or moving too fast.

In my first year as a leader, my exuberance had to be paused. I know my excitement about change was not echoed by the folks I was working with, but I knew that if I built stronger relationships and let them into my experience, some would be curious at the very least. And they have been.

Since I’m about transparency, I’m not going to lie that it has been easy or that I have won everyone over; I’m fairly certain I haven’t. I do believe, however, that there is a healthy respect we share. And one new thing I’d like to employ is something that I heard Brene articulate that really did resonate. In fact, I’ve shared it with a few people already.

Although I have always believed that I assume the positive in people, there are one or two people whom I have struggled with. One suggestion Brene makes is to assume people are doing the best that they can. When we believe that is the best they can bring right now, the way we approach them changes. The perspective we have of them must adjust. How can I work within this new construct where I understand that I have to try something different?

If you haven’t read Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead, I strongly recommend it and not just for leaders, for anyone. Her voice is a strong and honest one that brings humor and humility to the front of the lessons she teaches.

What are your core values? Do you lead from them? How do you know? Please share

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