BOOK REVIEW: Dare to Lead by Brené Brown

BOOK REVIEW: Dare to Lead
by Brené Brown

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ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER  Brené Brown has taught us what it means to dare greatly, rise strong, and brave the wilderness. Now, based on new research conducted with leaders, change makers, and culture shifters, she’s showing us how to put those ideas into practice so we can step up and lead.

Look for Brené Brown’s new podcast, Dare to Lead, as well as her ongoing podcast Unlocking Us!

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY BLOOMBERG

Leadership is not about titles, status, and wielding power. A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for recognizing the potential in people and ideas, and has the courage to develop that potential.

When we dare to lead, we don’t pretend to have the right answers; we stay curious and ask the right questions. We don’t see power as finite and hoard it; we know that power becomes infinite when we share it with others. We don’t avoid difficult conversations and situations; we lean into vulnerability when it’s necessary to do good work.

But daring leadership in a culture defined by scarcity, fear, and uncertainty requires skill-building around traits that are deeply and uniquely human. The irony is that we’re choosing not to invest in developing the hearts and minds of leaders at the exact same time as we’re scrambling to figure out what we have to offer that machines and AI can’t do better and faster. What can we do better? Empathy, connection, and courage, to start.

Four-time #1 New York Times bestselling author Brené Brown has spent the past two decades studying the emotions and experiences that give meaning to our lives, and the past seven years working with transformative leaders and teams spanning the globe. She found that leaders in organizations ranging from small entrepreneurial startups and family-owned businesses to nonprofits, civic organizations, and Fortune 50 companies all ask the same question: 

How do you cultivate braver, more daring leaders, and how do you embed the value of courage in your culture? 

In this new book, Brown uses research, stories, and examples to answer these questions in the no-BSstyle that millions of readers have come to expect and love.

Brown writes, “One of the most important findings of my career is that daring leadership is a collection of four skill sets that are 100 percent teachable, observable, and measurable. It’s learning and unlearning that requires brave work, tough conversations, and showing up with your whole heart. Easy? No. Because choosing courage over comfort is not always our default. Worth it? Always. We want to be brave with our lives and our work. It’s why we’re here.”

Whether you’ve read Daring Greatly and Rising Strong or you’re new to Brené Brown’s work, this book is for anyone who wants to step up and into brave leadership.

My Review:

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Usually, when I finish a book I feel clear about my rating for the book — either it’s a 3 or a 4 or a 5. (If I would rate it a 1 or a 2, I don’t even finish it unless I have to for some reason.) This is my second book this year where I felt like the whole numbers weren’t accurate. I wanted to give it a 4.5, and I’ll explain why…

First of all, Dare to Lead is absolutely amazing! It offers a lot of practical takeaways for anyone in a leadership role. Here are a few of my personal takeaways:

  • The section on Armored Leadership versus Daring Leadership helped me identify a couple of leadership skills I could start working on right away.
  • “Paint done.” Although I could never see myself using this exact phrase, I love the idea of this. I often know in my head what “done” looks like, but when I ask a team member to do a task and they deliver it, that’s often when I realize there are a dozen more things that need to happen in order to get to my version of “done.” And then I usually end up getting stuck or frustrated.
  • Don’t be afraid of the “rumble,” either with those you supervise or those who supervise you. “We have to be able to take feedback—regardless of how it’s delivered—and apply it productively. We have to do this for a simple reason: Mastery requires feedback.”

I also gained clarity around the phrase, “Clear is Kind.” I hear this stated occasionally at work and I actually thought it meant as a manager to be clear in your instruction. However, what it really means is to be clear in your feedback to people. Don’t zigzag around confrontation or the discomfort it might bring you. Instead, be vulnerable, and be clear.

Clearly I learned a lot from this book, and I think everyone in management should read it. The only reason I couldn’t give the book 5 stars was the final impression it left me with.

I often feel this way when I read a book by someone as well-known as Brené Brown. There’s a demand for content from people like this. We want to learn from them. They gave so much wisdom and insight. Yet…there’s something missing in the overall structure of the book.

It feels like the content may have been pulled together from different places—other books, maybe articles and/or speeches she’s given, whatever. And at the end you’re left feeling like you learned a lot but there was a lack of cohesiveness with the overall message.

That’s just my nit-picky opinion, but I wanted to explain my rating. It’s still totally worth reading!

I’ll leave you with this:

“The courage to be vulnerable is not about winning or losing, it’s about the courage to show up when you can’t predict or control the outcome.” – Brené Brown, #DareToLead

Published by Kelly Schuknecht

Kelly Schuknecht is a marketing director with a background in the publishing industry and a passion for all things related to books. She blogs about book marketing because she loves helping authors navigate the world of social media to discover new ways to promote and sell their books. If you're looking for something good to read, you can find Kelly's top picks here: www.kellyschuknecht.com/book-faves.

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