Book Review: Dare to Lead

Brene Brown: Dare to Lead

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

Brené Brown makes the thesis of this book, in her words, “deceptively simple.” What does it mean and what will it require of individuals to be daring leaders? Brown brings decades of experience as a researcher, professor and social worker to bear in this book. Her findings uncover interesting patterns, chiefly, that people bring the whole of themselves (style and strengths, as well as fears and insecurities) to the workplace. Leadership is learning to embrace the whole of who people are to create a human culture within organizations. This means allowing for vulnerability, a key concept in Brown’s work, which is the “emotion we experience during times of uncertainty, risk, and …exposure.”

Brown posits many people learn early, in both their personal and professional lives, that vulnerability is a liability. She counters this belief with evidence that much of the difficulty in organizations is because people have not been given permission to be vulnerable – to express their concerns and emotions, especially during times of upheaval or organizational change. Because of a fear of shame (which Brown states is a fear of disconnection), people are wary of being vulnerable–- wary of bringing their whole “selves” to work.

Another major concept that Brown explores are values and the need to operationalize them: what is it that leaders (and their organizations) care about? After identifying these values, organizations need to define how to live up to those values on a day-to-day basis. This work, Brown says, will require courage, open-heartedness and integrity.

Brown encounters the reader in her trademark engaging style in this book, mixing warmth with a pull-no-punches attitude. It offers insights that are applicable within any organization, and its lessons–- how to lead with kindness, courage and humanity – are valuable and timely.

– Reviewed by Phillip Windsor, Richland Library Business & Careers Department

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