Good Read: “Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.”

Review by: Angela Fieler, MPA, CMQ/OE, Senior Consultant

Search for the word “leadership” in Google or on Amazon, and you will see that there is no shortage of research studies or publications about leadership today.  Perhaps Brené Brown’s name, TedTalk, or other books will show up.  Do not be lulled into thinking that Dare to Lead is just another book about leadership because it is not.

Yes, the topic is leadership, and yes, Brown is trying to help the reader become a better leader. It is not just her point of view, but her experiences, stories, and even her choice of words that distinguishes her.  Take the word “vulnerability” – it’s a concept I personally have trouble connecting to leadership.  Brown spends more than half the book on the topic, and for good reason.  People like me, whose leadership training and experience is grounded in the command and control leadership model tend to view vulnerability as a weakness, something leaders should never show.  According to Brown, that perception is precisely what needs to change if today’s leaders hope to succeed. 

Dare to Lead is about a new way of leading, of “showing up” to use Brown’s language.  She says that leaders need to “choose courage over comfort” and that “there is no courage without vulnerability.”  Brown has dedicated her life’s work to studying leaders and says courage can be taught.  She has identified four skill sets of courage that are observable, measurable, and teachable.  Those four skill sets represent the backbone of the book. 

But Brown didn’t stop there.  If you go to you will find a hub of tools designed to help you, your team, and your organization learn these skills.  I’ve read the book and agree that these skills are outside anything I’ve been taught before, and honestly, because they are so foreign to me, I’m guessing developing these skills will not be easy.  But if you complete the assessment, which I did, you’ll get a comprehensive report of your strengths and opportunities for development, as well as some quick tips on where to start.  There’s a free downloadable workbook with exercises that you can do alone or in a group, a toolkit for operationalizing your values, and links to trained facilitators to help your organization develop courageous leaders.  If you feel like you aren’t as effective as a leader as you would like to be, or as you have been in the past, dare to do something different.  Pick up the book, check out the website – what have you got to lose?

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