Book Review: Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts by Brené Brown

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Brené has gone corporate.

Dare To Lead continues her conquest of shame, dysfunction, ego, hate, indifference, and everything else that tries to dehumanise and destroy us every day but now, she focuses her energy on vulnerability in the workplace, a place where most people spend a significant amount of our lives navigating.

Dare to Lead’s themes include what it means to be vulnerable, how shame derails us in our pursuits of greatness, and embracing a commitment to continuously growing as leaders and individuals through interpersonal communication skill building.

Brené engages these topics by providing research, sharing personal narratives, as well as offering practical advice, tips, and tools.

If you are a leader or aspire to be one, this book will speak to you on a very emotional level, particularly her chapter on “Armored Leadership.”

As I read the sixteen examples of armored leadership and the contrasting daring leadership actions, I found myself evaluating my own experiences as a leader.

There were points where I could say, “Yes, I nailed that one!” but too many times where my response was, “Yeah, I failed to realise what I was doing and fell right into the trap.”

Her chapter on “Living into Your Values,” validates my conviction that values are at the very center of what we do as leaders.

If we do not identify and act on our values, we will fail.

Brené writes: “Daring leaders who live into their values are never silent about the hard things.”

Living into our values means more than articulating our values, it means that we practice them.

She explains that individuals do not have two sets of values, one personal and one professional.

We have only one set of values that we are called to practice in all areas of our lives.

This is a great book. Whatever your position is, whatever your responsibilities, please read this book and put its lessons into practice.

Rating

8/10

I truly loved this book. The book is well researched. It digs deeper and clarifies complex emotional issues into simple concepts to grasp.

You have to read this book if you lead people. But you have to read this book even when you lead no one, because even when you lead no one, you are leading yourself.

Except the few cursing and swear words, I truly believe this is an important book to have.

I must caution though, if you have read Brené’s work before, this book is not that different from her other work.

Favourite quotes

  • “We fail the minute we let someone else define success for us.”
  • “Trust is in fact earned in the smallest of moments.”
  • “No trust, no connection.”
  • “Talk to yourself the way you’d talk to someone you love. Most of us shame, belittle, and criticize ourselves in ways we’d never think of doing to others.”
  • “The difference between empathy and sympathy: feeling with and feeling for. The empathic response: I get it, I feel with you, and I’ve been there. The sympathetic response: I feel sorry for you.”
  • “Only when diverse perspectives are included, respected, and valued can we start to get a full picture of the world:”
  • “So often, when someone is in pain, we’re afraid to say, “Yes, this hurts. Yes, this is a big deal. Yes, this sucks.” We think our job is to make things better, so we minimize the pain.”
  • “Choose courage over comfort.”
  • “Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio reminds us, “We are not necessarily thinking machines. We are feeling machines that think.”
  • “We avoid tough conversations, including giving honest, productive feedback. Some leaders attributed this to a lack of courage, others to a lack of skills, and, shockingly, more than half talked about a cultural norm of “nice and polite” that’s leveraged as an excuse to avoid tough conversations.”
  • “We need to trust to be vulnerable, and we need to be vulnerable in order to build trust.”
  • “As Stuart Brown says, “The opposite of play is not work, the opposite of play is depression.”

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