Webster defines “brave” as having or showing courage – the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. BRAVE is also an acronym for Behaviors, Relationships, Attitudes, Values, and Environment, which together form a framework for leadership. Resolve for 2015 to strengthen your own leadership by applying this framework. As you pause and re-think, build from the outside in:

Environment: The context for your leadership, the change you must respond to, the danger, fear or difficulty into which you and your team must venture, persevere, and withstand. Re-ask “Where to play?” for 2015, taking into account the business environment, organizational history, and recent results.

Values: What matters most to you and to your followers. Do respond and adapt to the ever-changing world around you; but to what end? Re-ask “What matters and why?” for 2015 to reconfirm or re-look at your purpose and principles.

Attitude: Choices about strategy, posture, and approach. This is the pivot between the environment and values, and relationships and behaviors. Get specific about the answer to the question “How to win?” for 2015.

Relationships: The heart of leadership. You can’t lead until you can connect. Ask “How to connect?” to build mutually beneficial relationships. Think through your most important relationships and how to reconnect and deepen those bonds. Think through new relationships you want to build in 2015.

Behaviors: Where the rubber meets the road. Assess your environment, get clear on your values, choose your attitude, build relationships on the way to behaving and driving those few actions that will make a meaningful and rewarding impact on others. Ask “What impact?” to focus your efforts in 2015.

This is not about you. It’s about inspiring and enabling others. Apply this framework to your team, remembering that you must lead differently as your team grows.

  • Environment – Where to play? (Context)
  • Values – What matters and why? (Purpose)
  • Attitudes – How to win? (Choices)
  • Relationships – How to connect?
  • Behaviors – What impact? (Implementation)



Regular readers of this column have seen multiple applications of the BRAVE leadership framework. (Follow this link for the full list or send me an email to get added to my weekly distribution of headlines and summary paragraphs from these Forbes New Leader’s Playbook articles.) Some of the most interesting recent applications that you should consider for 2015 include:


BRAVE Innovation – This flowed from a conversation with Peter Skarzynski about his book, “The Innovator’s Field Guide” and highlights the need to innovate across business concepts and models and not just product improvements.

BRAVE Negotiating – This flowed from a conversation with Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez about her book “Think Like a Negotiator” and framed solutions to her seven most common negotiating mistakes in the BRAVE framework.

Where to play

Choosing where to play is the CEO’s big bet. Imprivata’s Omar Hussain walked me through how he abandoned everything but healthcare for an article on Risk and Reward.

What matters and why

One of the core premises here is that you don’t get to choose your mission. It chooses you. Richard and Michelle Laver’s story about the startup of Kate Farms is an inspiring example.

How to win

Strategy, posture and culture are critical choices. It’s essential to get them in sync. John Kotter’s dual operating system may bridge the seemingly unbridgeable gap between evolutionary and revolutionary innovation.

How to connect

It turns out not all employee engagement is the same. Building off some good work by Aptify’s Amith Nagarajan, my article on employee engagement suggests you should lead people with different levels of engagement differently.

What impact

Your greatest impact won’t flow from what you do. It will flow from what you inspire and enable others to do. This is why you should read Marc Hafer’s ideas around working less and creating more value.

Your BRAVE leadership in 2015

For 2015, remember that while others will follow a charismatic leader for a time, they will devote themselves to the cause of a BRAVE leader over time. Be that BRAVE leader. Inspire and enable others to be BRAVE leaders.


Click here for an overall executive summary of the New Leader’s Playbook and links to each of its individual articles on Forbes organized by category.