In today’s highly competitive work environment, developing leadership skills such as vulnerability and empathy will mean the difference between success and failure.

In this podcast episode, Marius and I discuss Brené Brown’s “Dare to Lead”, a book that dives into the importance of vulnerability-based leadership. This episode will explore some of the key takeaways from the book and how they can be applied in our work environment.

We also discuss the following points:

  • Brown’s “Dare to Lead” emphasizes the importance of cultivating courage and bravery in leaders
    • Embracing vulnerability,
    • Being true to values
    • Setting boundaries
    • Knowing and understanding their “why”
  • Asking for help
  • Holding oneself accountable
  • Empathy

Brené Brown’s “Dare to Lead” offers practical advice and research-backed evidence to help leaders develop trust with others through empathy and vulnerability. 

Through Marius’ PSI Book Club review, statisticians could delve deeper into the book, have rich discussions, and apply its principles in the work environment. Emotional connection, accountability, and empathy are just some of the many essential tools leaders might utilize to create a more positive work environment. Ultimately, cultivating these leadership skills can benefit the whole team and lead to better experiences for both employees and employers alike.

So listen to this episode now and share this with your friends and colleagues!

And join the PSI book club!

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Marius Sieverding

Senior Statistician II – HTA Biostatistics

Marius is a Biostatistician and Scientist with an background in Statistical Programmer, Environmental Science (M.Sc) and Epidemiology (M.Sc).

Through his career path, he gained experience as Senior Statistician in HTA as well as Lead Statistical Programmer for large international cross-sectional studies. He had the chance to work with amazing multi-professional and multi-national teams in health studies with impact.

Passionate about working on projects with positive impact for patients and society. He loves to learn new things and have personal development.

Proficient in using SAS/R for data analysis as well as using CDISC data standards


PSI Book club – dare to lead review

[00:00:00] Alexander: Welcome to another episode of The Effective Statistician, and today I’m super excited to talk with Marius Sieverding who is running a book club for some time now with PSI and we are talking about one of the books that he is currently discussing in this book and I’ve been fortunate enough to be in his group for an earlier book and he’s doing a really great job in running this book club. So welcome to the show, Marius.

[00:00:35] Marius: Yeah, thank you very much for having me. Thank much for the introduction.

[00:00:39] Alexander: So before we get into the topic of the book, maybe you can speak a little bit about the book club and PSI and how this came about and what are the benefits of attending this book club?

[00:00:52] Marius: Yeah. Yeah, I’d love to. So yeah, we have this book up to give people from the PSI environment, like an area to discuss, maybe not so much technical books, but more books on personal development on career development and all these so-called soft skills. And we have a shortage of books and of course everyone can suggest anything they’re interested in reading or discussing. And we have select everyone in smaller groups have five to six people in each group. And so is everyone’s opportunity to have a more like a safe space basically for this discussing. So we want everyone the chance to really open up, be vulnerable to really, cause these are topics about like personal development and of course everyone brings a bit of their personality into that. We wanna make sure that we dropped this performance mindsets that we can actually talk about things we struggle with, things we want to improve on. And yeah, so that’s why we have it for three to four months each group is running. We divide the book into chapters and so each group can take time to really discuss each chapter and work on maybe topics that I discussed there.

And yeah, so it gives really opportunity to network, to get to know people from the industry, people from other companies other departments. And yeah, so far feedback has been really good. People come back once they’re, people tend to come back or they would enjoy it. And so yeah, I can only recommend, going to PSI or look us up and yeah, join the book club.

[00:02:08] Alexander: Yeah, and we’ll definitely put a link to the book club into the show notes so that you can easily find that there. So, let’s talk about the current book. And what is it?

[00:02:20] Marius: Yeah. We are current reading the Elite by Brenna Brown. And yeah, I always say it’s a bit misleading, the title because yeah, it is a leadership book, but I think it is not your usual leadership books cuz she emphasizes more the importance of vulnerability coach and empathy leadership. Which is, I think not really talked about in conditional leadership models. And so Brown, set these qualities are really essential for building trust. And creating like really meaningful connection with others, with your team which yeah are critical for effective leadership. But this is something which is more personal development than it is just management tools. And and I think what you can get out of that is really being a person that people want to follow. And I think that is something which doesn’t necessarily have to be someone in leadership position. Even if you’re junior, you can start working on yourself and try to be like, be a person that yet you want to be a person that people would like to follow and really like to listen to.

[00:03:14] Alexander: Yeah, I think it’s about frustration influence. And not so much about your title leadership. Yeah. But leadership has nothing to do with positions. You can be a great leader without him having any title.

[00:03:27] Marius: Yeah.

[00:03:28] Alexander: I really love Brene Brown. If you never have heard about her. She’s one of the most famous, I think, psychologists of our time. She has a TED Talk, that was, is one of the most downloaded Ted Talks of all time. She had a show on Netflix. About this topic and it’s has her own podcast as well that you can check out and is a sort out keynote speaker and these kind of things. She’s really adds the top of this globally and yeah, you can learn quite a lot from her. From a background, she is a qualitative psychologist, so she is also a professor in that regard. So she comes really with a scientific approach here. So this is not just some ladies that had an idea and kind of put it out in the world, which is also useful. She backs it up with tons of research and so that makes it especially applicable I think also to us.

[00:04:35] Marius: Yeah.

[00:04:36] Alexander: You already mentioned one of her key concepts. Vulnerability. I am speaking about this very regularly also in my leadership program. It’s one of these key things that you need to become a really good, influential person. What does vulnerability mean actually here?

[00:04:57] Marius: Yeah. And I think really this is interesting and cause these are like some things she has really put to the center of her work vulnerability and shame, which I think before her, no one has mentioned these words in terms of leadership concept and Yeah, in terms of like professional management. And so that’s why I think like she is really and I love what you mentioned that she’s. Backs it up with science cuz yeah, some people have great ideas and it’s great to make a concept of that. But she mentions how she comes to those conclusions and this gives, yeah, gives them a bit more weight. No, sorry, but I digress. Back topic. What is vulnerability? So vulnerability is being open and honest about your fears and insecurities and be authentic when you show up as a leader. And I think that’s a great quote. She said the quote to be vulnerable. It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about the courage to show up when you can’t predict or control the outcome.

[00:05:49] Alexander: Yep.

[00:05:50] Marius: And I think that when I read that in the beginning of the book, that hit so close home, I said that’s exactly the point. That’s really being courageous means really just putting yourself out there and just do your best. Even if you can’t, you don’t know what’s gonna be the outcome. And if you can control the outcome, you haven’t really put yourself forward enough. And I think being vulnerable is when you do that, be true to what you feel. But with bandwidth, I think that there’s a whole lot of concepts behind that, how it can be vulnerable, what is what should not be vulnerability and like where you have to roll the line to be an effective leader and what you can, like what should put out there.

[00:06:28] Alexander: Can you give an example of where you yourself have felt, this vulnerability and, moved into this space of being vulnerable?

[00:06:39] Marius: Yeah. What I definitely feel and why I love this book too much kind, it reflects a lot of concepts that I now, in retrospect, see that these have shaped kind who I am as a professional person and as a yeah, private person is whenever you faced with something that you makes you panic. Like in working around someone, I dunno, CEO ask you, can you do presentation? And you immediately you go do in shocking. Oh my god, I’m so afraid of that. Cause it’s so much outta your comfort zone and in past, when I was younger, there was the moment I taught myself out of these kind of things. Oh no, sorry, I don’t have time. I can do that. If someone, ask else couldn’t do that better. And cause we are driven by fear and by same, by I’m not good enough. I’m not the right person to do that. And I have really changed when I give myself three seconds to actually think about that, to really assess, is this right?

And if I can’t come up with a really good explanation to not do that, I say yes. Because if you take time, you will find a reason to talk yourself out of it. You will always find a reason. It can be ridiculous, but you find a reason and you convince that it’s a good reason. But it’s fear and shame that drives these kind of like thoughts and just saying yes and have the courage to just go through with it.

And this mindset has really shaped what I am and who I, how I perform as a professional. And then now reading that book, it really made me feel emotional. Cause I realized yes that’s something which It’s as a center of Yeah. How I perform and I think, I feel this is like being vulnerable cuz I’m like facing my fears and if I do these things, I try to be authentic as a person. Try to be true to who I am with my values. But, and I think this is, or maybe we can get to the later podcast, this is 10 boundaries. It’s Tied to being vulnerable because it’s not about getting in a meeting and drop all your emotions on people in your team. That’s not vulnerability. It’s still like showing I’m a human, I have feelings, I’m here with you. But you don’t, you shouldn’t drop your feelings on your teammates. You should have clear boundaries about what is the property to share and whatnot.

[00:08:40] Alexander: Yeah. I think there’s a common misperception about vulnerability is a sign of weakness.

[00:08:48] Marius: Yeah.

[00:08:49] Alexander: I think it’s the other way around. It’s a sign of strength. Yeah. A typical thing where you show vulnerability is if you, for example, ask for help.

[00:08:59] Marius: Yes.

[00:09:00] Alexander: I haven’t done this before. I have very little knowledge. I’ve looked into it and I think I could benefit from some help.

[00:09:10] Marius: Yeah. Absolutely. That’s a actually really good point that she also backs up with science. She has all those wish should wish to ask, like the top CEOs of all the companies that you just worked with and you have all these questionnaires and she said the one thing that Top Manager has put forward and how they identify their people they trust is people ask for help. Because it shows you know, your boundaries. You know what you cannot do, and you are, you’re brave enough to openly admit it and ask for help. And if I know someone will ask for help, I know they’ll come to me if a product might fail, if they have with timelines. They are not afraid to stand up and say something isn’t working. And yeah. This is like really asking for help is being vulnerable. Putting yourself out there.

[00:09:52] Alexander: Yep. Exactly. I just had this in the other day in one of the masterminds of the leadership program where we talked about exactly this topic. The person was asking, some programmers and some colleagues to validate some stuff, and she didn’t really get a response. And afterwards she found out some of these things didn’t went, as planned. But no, we asked for help. Raised. I don’t know exactly what to do here. Yeah. What exactly do you expect of me? Yeah. Asking for clarity. I haven’t completely understood this. Yeah. Could you explain that in more detail? Could you show what exactly are your goals? So is vulnerability as well?

[00:10:36] Marius: Yeah, absolutely. I really, I had the same experience in the past. I had a different country. A different company. Had someone junior join and I was mentoring him and whenever we talked about anything, I was like, oh yeah, no problem. Yeah, I absolutely know how to do that. No problem. And in the end, like to the feedback loop over time. You realize stuff is not working out. People are complaining about technology work. And I, every time I checked in, I was like, ah yeah. But I know absolutely how to do that. It’s no problem. And I was like, I should be the person you trust, like I’m trying to mentor you in joining this company. Please be open about what you cannot do. And yeah, this is just you start to lose trust in people if you do not have a feeling, you get really honest and clear feedback about what they’re gonna do.

[00:11:17] Alexander: That is actually another interesting topic, trust and vulnerability. Can you be only vulnerable with people that you absolutely trust?

[00:11:28] Marius: Ooh, yeah. Good question. I think there was a quote, which I cannot, I remember how she put that. A trust can be all right. Yeah. Choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person’s action. And I think that’s a great definition. Cause you put something out there and you risk someone else, like values it or like you. Yeah. You put herself out there. And this is like trusting someone and I think she has a great framework for how trust works and how you can build trust and it’s definitely something you have to build. And she has a framework for setting boundaries, being reliable, being accountable to over time with trust. Cuz yeah I think it’s really hard to be vulnerable if you don’t trust people because you have to set very clear boundaries. So I think it could be possible, but it’s a really good point.

[00:12:19] Alexander: I think it is in the essence of vulnerability that you may not completely trust the other person. If you would trust the other person completely, you would be in a safe space. You wouldn’t be courageous. It wouldn’t be, you would know that you, that the outcome would be good, that you don’t, would get. Rejection or whatever, you’ll get understanding. Yeah. It is where you don’t trust the other person and basically this vulnerability is consciously trusting forward, so you decide, okay, I will step outside my comfort zone. I don’t yet trust you completely. Nevertheless, I’ll ask for help. I’ll provide feedback. I will do this presentation whatsoever. Yeah. The interesting thing is also do you trust yourself in doing it?

[00:13:18] Marius: Yeah, I think that’s probably even more difficult than trusting someone else. We know all our insecurities, we know everything about us. But you probably, it’s probably really about acting together with people. You don’t have a hundred percent trust and. I think she also talks about having these values so that you tie your action to your values. So if you, whatever you do, you frame it through the lens of one of your values. If my values is family, I’m like, here I’m showing up for work cause I wanna provide for my family, these kind of things, like I know why I’m doing it. So if I know why I’m doing it, I’m like really set in my intentions, in my values and who I am. It’s okay if other people I don’t trust judge me. Cause I stand behind what I do. Cause I’m backed up by my own values. And so that’s like probably where I can be like, it’s okay if I don’t trust people. Cause I know what I do reflects who I am.

[00:14:07] Alexander: I think this is also a great way to be more courageous if you know why you’re doing it. These whys are your values used? Simon Sinek has this great book about, start with Why. Not what you do, not how you do it, but why are you doing it? And if you share this why ,it’s also much easier for people to connect with you.

[00:14:33] Marius: Yeah. Absolutely.

[00:14:34] Alexander: If you share I need to stop working now because I need to take care of my six son or because family is important for me. Things like that people will much easier understand your why behind it.

[00:14:51] Marius: Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s also, I keep on quoting the book, but there’s like hundreds of quoteworthy so imagine people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

[00:15:02] Alexander: Yeah.

[00:15:03] Marius: Yeah. It’s about connecting to the human. I think that ties back to the beginning. In the introduction she mentions how she came to this research like having a big talk about, with see all level people and being really afraid. And someone told her it’s just people and it’s this is a sentence really stuck with me like in so many different moments and situations where I think, remember these are all people. I mean they’re people who want to connect. So the personal layer of our interaction, of our professional connection is as important as the technical one. Cause we talk to people, it’s their emotions. It’s our emotions. These are, I said always at the table. If we’re not aware of that, we cannot be good technical leader cause it’s people all the time. And this, I think is very important thought and very valuable.

[00:15:50] Alexander: It also touches on this point that you can’t just ignore emotions. You need to much more kind of leverage them, build on them. This way you can connect with people. Everybody will remember you, how you made someone feel.

[00:16:07] Marius: Yeah, absolutely.

[00:16:08] Alexander: There’s this, I don’t get the exact quote at the moment, but that’s the essence of it. If you are giving a training and you have people, the gives us people this aha effect, this kind of, ah, no, I understand it. This kind of effect. That’s a very positive feeling and people will remember that. Maybe much more than for the P value is.

[00:16:35] Marius: Yeah. We connect over those experiences and I think there’s about not ignoring the emotions part, which I just will love and I mentioned at the beginning this book is not management methods and et cetera and like time management, but there are some things in there which are really more hands on. And I, there’s one thing about feedback. Cause that’s what we try to give feedback and in like our, like companies, it’s try to be objective. They like values who has to be measurable, but in the end it’s two people. So I think cross footage, other, and it’s we talk about things which maybe if someone not lives up to expectation, this is something which makes you feel in a certain way, we cannot ignore that. And I think this is ignored in feedback and she has a great part about giving feedback. And I think giving feedback is something where we have SOPs in our companies, we have guidelines etc but the most part depends on receiving feedback.

And I haven’t yet seen a training on receiving feedback cuz she mentions not everyone who gives feedback is trained in giving feedback. So you might be in a position where someone gives feedback to you who isn’t actually trained in that, or maybe, or he’s trained but if not trained as, it’s not as good about like respecting your emotions. How to deal with someone. Not maliciously, but maybe by lack of training, ignores your emotions and makes you feel a certain way. And I was it epiphany? I was like, no one has ever talked to me about receiving feedback in a way, which kind of like, how would someone Yeah. How deal with that. I love that. So this is where it’s, we can’t ignore the feeling. We can’t ignore the people. The feeling of someone gives feedback. The feeling of someone we receive feedback. These things matter so much more as maybe not more, but as much as what we are saying.

[00:18:18] Alexander: Actually feedback, especially the constructive feedback, where you want to change your behavior, not where you wanna support supportive behavior. This very often leads to uncomfortable discussions. And most people don’t like giving this kind of feedback.

[00:18:38] Marius: It’s a tough conversation.

[00:18:39] Alexander: It’s a tough conversation. Vulnerability helps you to get into this tough conversation and be there and stay in the, how did she call it? Awkwardness?

[00:18:53] Marius: Yeah.

[00:18:55] Alexander: Yeah. And just stay in there. Don’t try to run away from it. Yeah. That is also very important if you start with why. If you say yes at the beginning of your feedback May I give you feedback because I want you to succeed. That’s my why then. That is a very different ways than just slapping someone into the face with you mess this up.

[00:19:20] Marius: Yeah. Absolutely. And it’s really staying in the awkwardness. You also mentioned that. Being clear is kind and like being unclear is unkind. So sometimes we say things and we maybe tone it down and we try to say things to make the other one feel better. What do we wanna do is we make ourselves feel better. We don’t want to have this awkward conversation, so we do something to make them feel better. Cause that makes us feel better. Yeah. But in the end it’s unkind to not be clear. And I may not be brutal. And this is also like a sense which I really just love is she said she’s not fan of anything brutal, including honesty. Because something is accurate or factual doesn’t mean it can’t be used in a destructive manner. So people are like, Hey, I’m just telling the truth. Doesn’t matter if you try, if you tell the truth to hurt someone, it’s still something I’m not gonna stay behind and respect. But being clear. But not being brutal. This is, I can get behind that.

[00:20:15] Alexander: Yeah, completely. Especially if it’s about feedback. I think it’s really important to stay in these IM messages. I have seen X, Y, that.

Yes. Yeah.

That has the impact for me of X, Y, Z. Yeah. I have seen. You diving into this presentation without any frame that has the impact said I was lost.

[00:20:42] Marius: Yeah. This gives like a really good context.

[00:20:46] Alexander: Yeah. And then stop with the feedback. Yeah. Don’t go on further. Don’t say what the other person could have done better or whatsoever just then. Stay there. Stay in this awkward moment. Of maybe silence the other person, if he needs help, then can ask for help. And then you can have a discussion about what you could do differently if the other person says, oh, thanks for the feedback. Yeah. I know how to do this better. Done.

[00:21:16] Marius: I think like enduring the awkward silence is an incredible important and very powerful communication tool, and this is something you have to learn. I had to learn that, really endure that, but it gives someone else time to think. Gather their thoughts and if you are able to introduce the silence a bit longer, the other person, it provokes them to start being also active in the confrontation and actually, yeah, may maybe share something why they didn’t have time to put. Is there a reason maybe so it’s not like one-sided monologue, but you get interactive, so this is really powerful, I learned.

[00:21:53] Alexander: Yeah. What is the top takeaway from this book for you?

Oh, there’re really I think there’s the two aspects. I think one is for me was having a framework for this kind of like thing with holding us in the back of our mind, like all these years, which I couldn’t really word that this putting ourself out. And no matter how the outcome is that this is courage. That if you meet the courageous person, what does it entail for you? And also I back up with research for a lot of people, this is like someone we who really put themselves out there. And it like reflects. What, how I feel about be having courage. And I think this is like one of the core takeaways for me.

And the other ones, which are I think is equally important are all these little tips and framework which had shaped, have shaped really how I am as a person, like outside of work. Cause it’s, we deal with shame. We deal with empathy, but vulnerability, these are things which also impact your private life. For actually, shame is one of her main research points. And I said, okay. I never really thought about how does shame happen in my day-to-day life. And these are things which impact maybe my private life even more than my personal, my professional life. Yeah, actually that’s actually one thing or shame I really wanted to also talk about is she mentions that shame is wooly tied to perfectionism. Which is something which might accrue in a, in a work environment where we have to take call, take about details a lot. And so people may tend to get perfectionism and she said, yeah, when you have someone who is a perfectionist, shame is riding shotgun she’d thought. Cause it’s not striving for excellence.

Like shame is the feeling that you like never good enough. And so she counters that with empathy. What is empathy and how you can actually get rid of shame in yourself and other people, perhaps empathy towards other people and yourself. And for example, one really powerful concept talk about empathy misses. And I really recognize myself a lot of that. So how we try to be emphatic towards other people, but we miss it and for example, reaction with someone has, might lost something or something bad happened, someone lost their job, and you’re going, oh man, that’s so bad. I really, I can’t believe how you’re holding up. It’s so bad. It’s not making the other person feel better if you really emphasize how bad the situation is. And he has six of these different, and I recognize myself in every one of those. And another one is just saying, oh, you’re gonna be fine. It’s you gonna, you’re gonna manage. It’s gonna be fine.

I know the topic. And next one is, oh, it’s not that bad. Here’s the positive things, here’s the upsides of that. And I recognize him by that immediately in that one. And the last one, obviously that’s more, doesn’t happen to me all the time, but saying, oh, you think that’s bad? It could be even worse. Let me tell about my neighbor who hit it even worse. And these are things, but I see people do that all the time if they try to have empathy with someone. And I realized, oh, damn I don’t know how to have empathy, which makes the other people person actually feel better. Yeah. And so these are the things that I didn’t expect in a leadership book, but that’s, and has really shaped, sorry, shaped how I interact with people who have had a loss or maybe who have a hard time. And really that, that was one of the really big takeaways for me, how to work with shame actually.

That is a very good point. Yeah. I remember these as well. And you see yourself in the past having said exactly all these. Yes. Realize, say were not helpful for the, as a person, just for you.

[00:25:31] Marius: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. It makes you feel better.

[00:25:33] Alexander: Yeah. Awesome. That is an outstanding summary. If you haven’t read the book, check out the links here in the show notes, and especially connect with Marius on the next books. What are books that you have potentially on the list that you want to go deeper into for the book club in the future?

[00:25:56] Marius: Yeah. Like I said, we are still open for suggestions. We have a short list time management or something people have wished for. Very high on the short list is the 100 Year Life. It’s also backed up by science book, which talks about how our personal and professional life would have changed if we all. Get up to a hundred year in age, cuz that of course have to be a fundamental change in our society. And it actually was initiated by a research funded by the Japanese government. Cause they gonna go directly to the direction of having a people averagely a hundred year, getting a hundred year old.

So this is really interesting. Some books of unhappiness. We have the atomic habits which are also on the short list. So yeah, we got a quick box list of books. So stay excited. Again, suggestions are always welcome and yeah, connect with me on LinkedIn or go to the website of PSI book club. Get on the newsletter so we get immediately informed as soon as the work station starts. And yeah I’m really happy see more people join the club.

[00:26:55] Alexander: That is so awesome and congratulations for initiating this. It’s not just that, these small groups just get together. Marius also organized moderators for all of these and these moderators on a kind of get prep material so that the, all these discussions can be really fruitful. Yeah. So it’s a very well organized course. It’s for free for PSI members. And so if you aren’t yet a PSI member, join PSI via there are all the different things. Also there’s this yearly conference of the PSI. If you have never attended this is an absolute must have.

The Conference in London this year, in June is nearly booked out which was outstanding. Close to 600 people. And it’s another event where you can learn, interact with all kind of different people. That sync very much like you. Thanks Marius for this awesome discussion and all the best for continuing with book Club.

[00:28:08] Marius: Thanks for having me. What a pleasure.

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