Employee Experience

Brene Brown’s Daring Leadership Assessment – A Complete Guide

5 Mins read

Leadership assessments can play a pivotal role in boosting the effectiveness of managers and executives. Astonishingly, just 11% of companies today report having a strong or very strong leadership pipeline, signifying a critical challenge within the corporate landscape. This issue is fundamentally rooted in the inadequacy of leadership development, underscoring the pressing need for precise leadership assessments and tailored training programs.

According to this report by Forbes, an impressive 86% of organizations have embraced formal leadership development programs. However, a concerning 57% of these organizations admit to underutilizing assessments when it comes to diagnosing leadership strengths and identifying areas for development. This untapped potential highlights the opportunity for authentic leadership assessments to fuel the growth of both current and aspiring leaders.

But what exactly do leadership assessments entail? In this article, we’ll delve into the purpose of these assessments, emphasizing their key characteristics. Additionally, we’ll explore two different leadership assessments.

Exploring the Essence of Leadership Assessments

A leadership assessment is a vital tool in the corporate landscape, serving as a gauge to determine an individual’s readiness to excel in a leadership role. It delves into an individual’s aptitudes and skills, measuring their suitability for a specific leadership position. These assessments hold the power to evaluate both existing and potential leaders, making them a versatile asset in the world of human resources.

One common application of leadership assessments is during the recruitment process for management positions. HR professionals can employ these evaluations to gauge the compatibility of job candidates with the responsibilities of leadership. However, their utility extends beyond recruitment; leadership assessments can be instrumental in charting the growth and development of current leaders within an organization.

The beauty of leadership assessments lies in their flexibility; they can be seamlessly integrated into an organization’s talent management practices, becoming a routine part of ongoing evaluations. Furthermore, these assessments can come to the forefront in strategic decision-making, particularly when there’s a need to identify the most suitable candidate for a specific role.

In a world where data-driven decisions are paramount, leadership assessments not only assist in placing individuals in roles that align with their strengths but also contribute to a culture of continual improvement within organizations. Whether for talent development or filling key positions, leadership assessments serve as compasses guiding organizations toward effective and impactful leadership.

Benefits of a Leadership Assessment

The advantages of conducting a Leadership Assessment are manifold, profoundly impacting talent management in various dimensions:

Facilitating effective talent deployment

Leadership assessments play a pivotal role in ensuring that proficient employees are appropriately placed in roles that align with their skills and capabilities. For instance, they help in avoiding biased decisions and ensuring talent is utilized optimally.

Catalyzing leadership growth

These assessments also act as a catalyst for the growth of current leaders by identifying and addressing their blind spots. This self-awareness fosters continuous development and skill enhancement. As an example, a leader may discover a need to enhance their communication skills through this process.

Fostering self-awareness

Leadership assessments not only benefit leaders but also aid organizations in comprehending the personalities and strengths of their workforce. This insight encourages personal and professional growth within the workplace. For instance, recognizing that an employee possesses strong analytical skills could lead to them being entrusted with more data-driven projects.

Streamlining recruitment

One of the significant advantages is the ability to make informed decisions when hiring leaders. By relying on the results of these assessments, organizations can avoid costly hiring mistakes and select the most suitable candidates. For example, a leadership assessment might reveal that a candidate has exceptional problem-solving abilities, making them an ideal fit for a decision-making role.

Strategic succession planning

Leadership assessments play a pivotal role in succession planning. When both individuals and the organization have a comprehensive understanding of their skills and career aspirations, it becomes easier to plan for leadership transitions. For example, knowing that a key employee aspires to take on a more senior role can guide succession planning efforts.

Brene Brown’s Daring Leadership Assessment

In her work “Dare to Lead,” Brené Brown introduces the concept of daring leadership as a transformative philosophy for the workplace. Brown, renowned for her TED talk on “The Power of Vulnerability” and extensive research on courage and vulnerability, redefines leadership and organizational management through this innovative approach.

According to Brown, a leader is someone who takes responsibility for nurturing the potential in people and processes while having the courage to foster that potential. Daring leadership calls for leaders to lead with wholeheartedness and self-awareness, incorporating cultures of vulnerability and courage into their organizations.

Armored Leadership vs. Daring Leadership – How they Differ?

Dr. Brené Brown has undertaken extensive work to categorize and understand various leadership models. Through interviews with over 150 leaders across diverse industries, she discerned two distinct leadership paradigms: Armored Leadership and Daring Leadership.

daring leadership assessment 2

Armored Leadership

Armored Leadership is characterized by leaders who metaphorically don emotional armor daily, approaching their roles as battles. Key attributes of Armored Leadership include:

  • Perfectionism and Fear: Armored leaders drive perfectionism and foster a culture of fear.
  • Scarcity Mindset: They operate with a scarcity mindset, missing opportunities for joy and collaboration.
  • Need for Rightness: They focus on being right and knowing all the answers.
  • “Power Over” Style: Armored leaders often employ a “power over” style, seeking control.
  • Cynicism and Criticism: They protect themselves with cynicism and criticism.
  • Exhaustion as a Status Symbol: Armored leadership tends to reward exhaustion as a status symbol.
  • “Fitting In” Culture: They promote a culture of “fitting in,” which may inadvertently tolerate discrimination.

While Armored Leadership can be effective, it comes at a cost, leading to challenges in employee recruitment, retention, innovation, productivity, and building a resilient organizational culture.

Daring Leadership

  • Daring Leadership, in stark contrast, eschews the emotional armor, with leaders opting to live, love, and lead with whole hearts. Key aspects of Daring Leadership comprise:
  • Embracing Vulnerability: Daring leaders allow themselves to feel and embody vulnerability, fostering clarity, kindness, and hope.
  • Promoting Healthy Striving: They encourage healthy striving, empathy, and self-compassion.
  • Commitment to Learning: Daring leaders prioritize learning over being right and focus on acquiring the skills needed for success.
  • Various Forms of Power: They employ “power with,” “power to,” and power within, emphasizing collaboration and empowerment.
  • Addressing Fear and Uncertainty: They acknowledge, name, and normalize collective fear and uncertainty.
  • Balancing Work and Well-being: Daring leaders emphasize rest, play, and recovery, setting appropriate boundaries.
  • Fostering Inclusivity: They cultivate a shared purpose, along with a culture of belonging, inclusivity, and diverse perspectives.

Daring Leadership may initially appear unconventional, but it is built on the understanding that vulnerability is not a sign of weakness, but a source of strength. Vulnerability, or the willingness to face risk, uncertainty, and emotional exposure, becomes an integral part of their leadership journey.

Leaders, as Dr. Brown emphasizes, should acknowledge that fear is a constant companion in leadership. It is not fear that hinders courage, but the armor we put on. Daring leaders choose not to armor up, recognizing that courage is contagious and can be learned and practiced. By shedding their armor, they create an environment where they can serve those they lead and encourage others to bring their whole selves to work.


In summary, Brene Brown’s “Daring Leadership Assessment” highlights the significance of leadership assessments and the transformative potential of daring leadership. With just 11% of companies having strong leadership pipelines, precise assessments and tailored training are imperative.

Daring leadership, as advocated by Dr. Brown, differs markedly from conventional “armored leadership.” It encourages leaders to be vulnerable, lead with empathy, and create cultures of trust and inclusivity. This approach fosters an environment where individuals can bring their authentic selves to work, driving innovation and resilience.

In essence, the choice between armored and daring leadership shapes an organization’s success. By shedding emotional armor and promoting vulnerability, organizations empower leaders to navigate challenges with courage, serve their teams, and create thriving, inclusive workplaces.

Further Reading

Manipulative Insincerity – What Is It & How It Impacts Organizations?
Dealing with Transgender Imposter Syndrome in the Workplace
Strategic HR Planning for Larger Businesses: The Intersection of Technology and Responsible AI

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About author
Fatjona Gërguri is the content writer for Employee Experience Magazine, covering the relevant topics about employee experience, organizational culture and general HR topics.
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