How to understand your unique value proposition: Brené Brown

I’ve heard about popular author and research professor Brené Brown and her books on vulnerability, leadership and courage for a while, and I noticed her recently-released podcast too, but I hadn’t considered diving into Brown’s work until only a few weeks ago. After seeing an interview with Brown on 60 Minutes, I was inspired by her insight, as well as her personality. She comes across as wise, informed and intelligent, but also seems approachable, relatable and friendly. I couldn’t wait to learn from her.

I decided to dive into the audiobook version of one of her most recent books, Dare to Lead. It discusses the four skills sets associated with daring leadership. Daring leaders will become willing to step up, put themselves out there, and lean into courage to lead effective, productive and healthy teams.

What’s one of the ideas from Dare to Lead that could help communication professionals in their careers?

Brown insists that daring leaders know their value, instead of hustling for their worth. Below, I share what this means.

Avoid hustling… When people don’t understand where they’re strong and where they deliver value for an organization, they hustle.

But it’s not the good kind of hustling, like the type that many of us associate with increasing our productivity or making money from a side gig in our spare time. It’s the kind of hustling that Brown describes as hard to be around. Why?

  • The person who’s hustling jumps everywhere, including where they’re not strong or not needed, just to prove they deserve a seat at the table.
  • They try to convey their importance in ways that are not helpful.
  • They consciously or unconsciously seek attention and validation of importance.
  • They often put more value on being right, than on getting it right.

All of this creates a sense of franticness among team members at work or on a project, and I’m sure it doesn’t feel too good to be in the panicked shoes of the “hustler” either.

Do you know someone like this, or can you picture yourself exhibiting this behaviour in the past?

Know your value instead… In daring leadership, rather than hustling for our worth, Brown shares that leaders know their value.

Daring leaders prevent hustling by sitting down with team members to discuss and understand the contributions they make, so that everyone knows their strengths. This moves the vibe away from a sense of franticness to a sense of calm corporation instead.

Brown reminds us that people sometimes overlook their own strengths because we take them for granted, and forget that they’re special or uniquely equipped to do something that’s easy for them. This is the sweet spot where people are uniquely primed to provide value.

How to understand your value proposition

Think of areas where you’re strong in your work as a communication professional, especially compared to others on your team or in your organization.

A communication professional’s skillset is unique to each practitioner. Since communication professionals work on a wide breadth and depth of activities and projects, the possibilities for how you can provide value are almost endless. It can include expertise in media relations, event planning, strategic planning, promoting thought leadership, internal communications, digital or social media, having subject matter in a specific industry, or technical skills.

Once everyone understands their own value, we can stop hustling for worthiness and lean into our gifts.

After reading this post, jot down the areas that make up your skillset. Star the ones that are unique to you as a communication professional. This is the first step to help you to learn your value proposition.

Questions? Share them in the comments.

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