Being a conference junkie for more than thirty years, I found myself burned out with the idea of one more registration confirmation in my inbox, just as a friend who works with Patrick Lencioni’s Table Group, began prodding me and our team to come to The Unconference. How could I politely get out of this without disappointing my friend? After consistent coaxing and piquing my interest with a few key phrases about the content, I caved and registered, and also wrangled our executive team to join me. While packing for Dallas, I began telling myself what Brene Brown in Dare to Lead describes as a reactionary SFD story. I rehearsed what I was certain we would experience at the UN conference and offloaded the emotion on my poor luggage as the pressure of an already overloaded schedule got the best of me. Off I went to the airport wearing a fake smile and carrying a well-constructed SFD.
I was completely taken back by what I experienced within minutes of the first session. I was absolutely captivated, wrote copious notes, felt my blood pumping and heart racing and was more alive than I had been in months! By the end of the first day my friend came to me with a handful of ink pens and a cocky smile and said, “Here you go, from your behavior today I think you’re going to need these and maybe another notebook too!” He was right. What was it about this conference that was so different from the hundreds of others I have sat through? Creative presentations of people-focused, organizational health principles discussed by practitioners living out the behaviors being taught. It was as biblical as any Christian ministry conference I had ever attended. Speakers such as Alan Mullaly of Ford, the CEOs of Southwest Airlines and Chick-fil-A, Ken Blanchard and several more told their stories of failure and success, and shared vulnerability and trust building practices focused on the development of every team member. Yes! This is what I always hoped was possible and want to be part of, this is workplace discipleship at its finest.
I had the same palpable sense of fulfillment this week while reading Dare to Lead. Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston and New York Times bestselling author has invested two decades in studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy and their effects on authentic leadership and wholeheartedness in organizations. Brown dares us to lead courageously, as the culmination of her years of study. She describes this kind of leadership as “the courage to show up when you can’t predict or control the outcome.” She set the hook for me to engage this book with my highlighter, just as I had done with ink pens to the Unconference notebook, through her definition of a leader, “Anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.” That’s it! That’s what I have been searching for. I have read more books on leadership than the number of conferences I have attended and this definition speaks to the core of my being like nothing I have ever heard. Every CEO that presented at the Unconference modeled and expressed the very same concepts and their team members confirmed the effects on them as human beings, not just as employees.
In The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni emphasizes five necessary behaviors cohesive teams must live out in order to experience a healthy organization: trust, conflict, commitment, accountability and results. Lencioni is convinced that vulnerability-based trust is foundational to the other four. “At the heart of vulnerability lies the willingness of people to abandon their pride and their fear, to sacrifice their egos for the collective good of the team…Simply stated, it makes teamwork possible. Only when teams build vulnerability-based trust do they put themselves in a position to embrace the other four behaviors.”
For people and for organizations, these are processes of becoming, of maturing. This is the treasure I have personally been seeking in leadership for many years. And to think, the conference cave I had been afraid to enter actually held the treasure I seek!
 Brene Brown, Dare to Lead (New York: Random House, 2018), 259-260.
 Ibid, xviii.
 Patrick Lencioni, The Advantage (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2012), Kindle Loc. 719, 889.
 Brown, 52.