Daring Leaders Follow the Way of the Heart

Greg’s official review of Brené Brown’s latest book

by Greg Mutch | February 1, 2022

A common (and usually unspoken) expectation in the workplace is that we should “check emotions at the door.” This norm creates a series of rippling effects – increased stress, detachment, and slipping trust. Organizations are suffering, along with the humans inside of them. 

In her last book, Dare to Lead, Brené Brown shares this compelling statement:

“Leaders must either invest a reasonable amount of time attending to fears and feelings, or squander an unreasonable amount of time trying to manage ineffective and unproductive behavior.” 

Sitting in a room in San Antonio, TX with my fellow Dare To Lead™ Facilitators in training, Brené shared the new research her team was developing around emotional literacy. Even in the early stages, the data was showing the vast majority of people are only fluent in a handful of emotions, the primary headliners being the rhyming trio – mad, sad, glad.

The culmination of the team’s research is now available in her new book, Atlas of the Heart, where 87 (say what??) emotions and experiences are explored through data and stories. This guidebook can equip everyone, especially leaders, to navigate the complexity of human emotion that – love it or hate it – exists every day in the workplace.

Leaders must say “Yes” to this critical shift.

Our Leadership Development approach hinges on the shift from unconscious autopilot to conscious awareness and choice. We have got to be awake in order to lead from the heart.

Two years into a global pandemic, our organizations are teeming with people that are overwhelmed, scared, confused, and languishing. AND at the very same time there is growth, excitement, energy and new success. How do we hold all of this at the same time? First, we choose to lead from a conscious and aware state. And then, we’ve got to build our emotional intelligence. Thank goodness, our girl Brené built us a roadmap.

Territories to explore in Atlas of the Heart

These “places we go” are defined and detailed with their corresponding emotions in Atlas of the Heart. Take a peak and see which ones show up often in your workplace.

Places we go when…

  1. Things are uncertain or too much
  2. We compare
  3. Things don’t go as planned
  4. It’s beyond us
  5. Things aren’t what they seem
  6. We’re hurting
  7. We go with others
  8. We fall short
  9. We search for connection
  10. The heart is open
  11. Life is good
  12. We feel wronged
  13. We self-assess

When we fail to create an environment where fears and feelings are addressed, we see increased stress, detachment, slipping trust, and a series of ripple effects that create real drag on teams and organizations. It is costing our organizations billions and it is costing our people their joy. 

When we attend to the full humanity of our people, trust goes up along with engagement, collaboration, and overall productivity. Better conversations, better ideas, and better outcomes. We.are.all.better.for.it.

Resources for Emotionally Literate Leaders

Atlas of the Heart is a beautiful book. Rich with insights and stories and full color pages. And it’s limited, too. Reading a map is not the same as taking a journey. Here are a few recommendations for your journey to understand and speak the language of emotion and lead from the heart.

Become Dare to Lead™ trained in March!

Join our 3-day intensive of Dare To Lead™ – led by Greg Mutch and Kari Bergman. Advance your journey as a leader in the way of the heart with 20-30 other committed leaders.


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