Brian Brault is a man with an impressive resume as an entrepreneur: he’s built two fast-growing companies and has a corporate culture that is the envy of Northern New-York. In addition to being an impressive entrepreneur, Brian is a smart, thoughtful, and attentive leader. He’s the owner of PURE Solutions, CEO of Advanced Facilities Services Intl. Inc., and the Global Forum Chairperson for the Entrepreneurs’ Organization. He rarely does or says what I expect him to but everything that comes from him is always 100% authentic.
Combining Intellect and Heart
In his Paper Napkin Wisdom, Brian reminds us that vulnerability as a leader is a strength we mustn’t forget to count. I think we all sometimes hold onto this idea that to be the best and strongest leader, we’ve got to be in front of the charge wielding the biggest sword. Sometimes that is very true, but Brian pushes back a little as his napkin reminds us of the impact of vulnerability.
Brian talks about the importance of combining intellect and heart. “So often,” says Brian “all people are looking for is to be heard and have their feeling acknowledged.” To really hear what someone is saying, Brian says you need to listen with your ears and your heart. When you listen with your ears, he says, you hear the words. When you listen with your heart, you listen to the intent of the words as well as the things that are not said. It is through this combination of faculties that you can give yourself a better picture of where a person is coming from and that’s what being an engaged listener is about. In this age of technological communication it can be difficult to keep ourselves vigilant about being engaged listeners. Communicating through text and e-mails makes it all too easy to misread the emotion and intent behind a person’s words, says Brian, but if you take the time to engage in as much face to face interaction as you can and practice being and engaged listener, you get a far better understanding of the people you’re talking to.
So often, all people are looking for is to be heard and have their feelings acknowledged
In being an engaged listener, you allow those around you to be vulnerable and that makes it easier to reciprocate that openness. It can be hard to be vulnerable because it means exposing yourself to the risk of failure, but as Brain points out: “If you’re not willing to expose yourself to the risk of failure, you’ll never truly reach your ultimate potential.”
People often feel that asking questions and admitting you don’t know something are signs of weakness but in actuality, they are signs of strength and the ability to do those things is a strength that can get you the answers to the questions you have. In admitting you don’t know, you create the opportunity to learn. “If you’re not willing to expose yourself to the risk of failure, you’ll never truly reach your ultimate potential,” says Brian. If that isn’t incentive to be vulnerable, I don’t know what is.
Listen to my conversation with Brian here: