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Dare to Lead

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In her #1 NYT bestsellers, Brené Brown 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.

Leadership is not about titles, status and power over people. Leaders are people who hold themselves accountable for recognising the potential in people and ideas, and developing that potential. This is a book for everyone who is ready to choose courage over comfort, make a difference and lead.

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 and work to align authority and accountability. We don't avoid difficult conversations and situations; we lean into the vulnerability that’s necessary to do good work.

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

Brené Brown spent the past two decades researching the emotions that give meaning to our lives. Over the past seven years, she found that leaders in organisations ranging from small entrepreneurial start-ups and family-owned businesses to non-profits, civic organisations and Fortune 50 companies, are asking the same questions:

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

Dare to Lead answers these questions and gives us actionable strategies and real examples from her new research-based, courage-building programme.

Brené writes, ‘One of the most important findings of my career is that courage can be taught, developed and measured. Courage is a collection of four skill sets supported by twenty-eight behaviours. All it requires is a commitment to doing bold work, having tough conversations and showing up with our whole hearts. Easy? No. Choosing courage over comfort is not easy. Worth it? Always. We want to be brave with our lives and work. It's why we're here.’

332 pages, ebook

First published October 16, 2018

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About the author

Brené Brown

66 books47.9k followers
Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston where she holds the Huffington Foundation – Brené Brown Endowed Chair at The Graduate College of Social Work. Brené is also a visiting professor in management at The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business.

She has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy and is the author of five #1 New York Times bestsellers: The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, Braving the Wilderness, and her latest book, Dare to Lead.

Brené hosts the Unlocking Us Podcast and the Dare to Lead Podcast. Her TED talk – The Power of Vulnerability – is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world with over 50 million views. She is also the first researcher to have a filmed lecture on Netflix. The Call to Courage special debuted on the streaming service in April 2019.

Brené lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, Steve. They have two children, Ellen and Charlie.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,638 reviews
Profile Image for Kelly.
878 reviews3,978 followers
November 30, 2018
Brene’s gone corporate. The 99% of us who latched onto her as a hardworking mom and smart researcher who thought hard and fought her way through to some amazing, amazingly put insights... well, in my opinion, that lady is gone. In her place is a motivational speaker who is most interested in selling herself as a guru to the 1%, or the slightly larger percentage of those who can afford to expense her to the company account. She’s just rehashing her old stuff and twisting it’s wording slightly to apply to the boardroom- and she’s not hiding it, either, I’ll give her that. The phrase, “As I already told you in Daring Greatly/The Gifts of Imperfection/Rising Strong...” pops up pretty frequently. Her forward literally states her aim for this book is that it be just as long as a flight from NY to LA. The book is just riddled with stories about the fancy people she’s given talks to, I assume to build up her cred with the C-levels reading this (a term I now know bc she repeated it so often). The book is filled with cheery posters and slogans you can print out and hang on your office wall, and despite her insistence that “teachers are some of our most important leaders,” at the start, we somehow never left the conference room in the half of the book I forced myself through. I saw this pattern start to happen in Braving the Wilderness, which was deeply meh but sort of had a logical progression of previous thought there- at least a tiny attempt at one. Not so here.

And that’s fine, she’s a CEO now herself, and that’s her truth now. And no doubt we do need people to help leaders with emotional skills they were never taught.

But it isn’t my truth. And it’s sucks to fall out of love with another author.

Profile Image for Adina.
800 reviews3,073 followers
April 28, 2021
I thought it would be a good idea to read more books about business and leadership and decided that Brene Brown would be an ok place to start. It was but there were too many self-help vibes in this book so only 3 stars.

There were some interesting and useful ideas about vulnerability and courage. I realised some of the mistakes I am doing and that putting up an armor does not help my development. There were also some interesting leadership advice and I think I learned something from this book. I particularly enjoyed the chapter about shame, a feeling which is embedded in our psyche since we are kids. I can’t even count how many times we are told not do something because it is shameful. However, the way the book was written made me roll my eyes many times. I really hate the language used by most self-help books and this was no exception. If I had read “circle back” or “rumble with vulnerability” one more time I would have thrown this book into a fire.
Profile Image for Mehrsa.
2,234 reviews3,659 followers
October 18, 2018
It’s Brene Brown for your corporate retreat! I was turned off by the management speech, which I thought she said in the beginning she wouldn’t do (the temptation is great). I was also annoyed at the commodification of her vulnerability insights into cute little worlds. “We’re going to rumble with this.” My SFD is... etc. Its sort of what happens to good insights—once they go thru the corporate retreat circus, they come out as weird nouns that can also be verbs and lose their original meaning.

Having said that, it’s useful insights as always. Just maybe read the first few books as all her ideas can be applied to the workplace without becoming cute phrases and procedures and meetings.
Profile Image for Min Choi.
31 reviews17 followers
December 9, 2018
So, I really appreciate Brené Brown. I love her books. I love her cussing (which she does in her talks more than her books) and, most of all, I love her staggering vulnerability and empathy.

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

How do we become courageous, bold, creative, caring leaders at work? What does it mean for us to begin a process of healing from past hurts, growing through our insecurities and shortcomings, and stepping into the arena, as Brown puts it, every single day?

Dare to Lead addresses an epidemic need for greater trust, authenticity, empathy, and care within our organizations and places of work. Wherever we work, inevitably we will experience miscommunication, misalignment, mismanagement, conflict, unethical decisions, criticisms, pressures to excel, temptations to hide your weaknesses and failures, and so much more. If you look at the stats, most of us have difficulty with a supervisor or co-worker.

Worse, we as a culture are becoming increasingly insensitive, outraged, and out of touch to our very own humanity. In the age of social media, algorithms, AI learning, and splintered narratives, we have forgotten that we are “people, people, people.” We are not just our tweets, we are not just our pain, we are not just our jobs or positions, but we are thoroughly and complexly human. Dare to Lead addresses these issues and helps pave a better path for all of us.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book! It is relevant, powerful, smooth to read, and deeply real.
Profile Image for Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship.
1,108 reviews1,170 followers
December 29, 2020
This was mostly a wrong turn in my “learn how to be a supervisor in the middle of a pandemic” quest. It seems to have received more attention from fans of the author’s other work than people looking for business books, and so perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s much more a self-help book than a management book. Mostly it’s peddling the author’s particular version of emotional authenticity and connectedness. I don’t know that there’s anything bad about her vision per se, but I found the book off-putting: the peculiar phrasing she uses in her workplace (“let’s rumble about this,” “that’s outside of my integrity,” and so on), the self-help-y unspoken assumption that seems to saturate its pages that those who don’t see the light of her vision will bumble around blindly leading terrible lives. Admittedly, I don’t think much of self-help books. They’re quick and easy reads, as this is, but they rub me the wrong way.

And unfortunately, for all the author touts her Ph.D. and calls herself a researcher, this is very much self-help rather than pop psych. Typically, a pop psych book will discuss studies and their methodologies and results in an accessible way for a general audience. This author claims to have done a bunch of research, but her methodology is never discussed beyond vague references to interviewing people. And she never cites a single statistic, instead presenting the One True Way to Be Empathetic, for instance. Somehow I’m pretty sure no psychological research shows 100% unanimity on anything, unless it’s total softball questions like “is murder generally wrong?” At what point does “I talked to a bunch of people about this, and here’s the general consensus” cross the line from anecdote to science? I don’t know, but I’m not convinced this work has done so.

That said, certainly there’s plenty of common sense advice here, like “be clear about what specifically you’re asking people to do” and “try to be nonjudgmental if you want people to feel safe talking to you.” I think the book is a little overly padded with the author quoting long excerpts of people (particularly famous people) praising her work, and it’s probably most useful if you are the head of an organization looking to transform a workplace culture. It kind of annoyed me, but then it’s not my type of thing to begin with.

EDIT: I finally found the management book I was looking for in Good Boss, Bad Boss. If you're looking for a compilation of actual research studies plus smart insights on how to be a great boss and navigate real (not idealized) workplace culture, I recommend that one instead!
Profile Image for Diane.
1,080 reviews2,633 followers
April 30, 2019
Another meaningful and inspiring work from Brené Brown! A friend recommended this book and I'm glad I took the time to read it. I think it will be especially beneficial to anyone in a leadership position who wants to improve relationships. Highly recommended.

Meaningful Passage

I didn't set out to study shame; I wanted to understand connection and empathy. But if you don't understand how shame can unravel connection in a split second, you don't really get connection. I didn't set out to study vulnerability; it just happens to be the big barrier to almost everything we want from our lives, especially courage. As Marcus Aurelius taught us, "What stands in the way becomes the way."

Here are the ten behaviors and cultural issues that leaders identified as getting in our way in organizations across the world:

1. 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. Whatever the reason, there was saturation across the data that the consequence is a lack of clarity, diminishing trust and engagement, and an increase in problematic behavior, including passive-aggressive behavior, talking behind people's backs, pervasive back-channel communication (or "the meeting after the meeting"), gossip, and the "dirty yes" (when I say yes to your face and then no behind your back).

2. Rather than spending a reasonable amount of time proactively acknowledging and addressing the fears and feelings that show up during change and upheaval, we spend an unreasonable amount of time managing problematic behaviors.

3. Diminishing trust caused by a lack of connection and empathy.

4. Not enough people taking smart risks or creating and sharing bold ideas to meet changing demands and the insatiable need for innovation. When people are afraid of being put down or ridiculed for trying something and failing, or even for putting forward a radical new idea, the best you can expect is status quo and groupthink.

5. We get stuck and defined by setbacks, disappointments, and failures, so instead of spending resources on cleanup to ensure that consumers, stakeholders, or internal processes are made whole, we are spending too much time and energy reassuring team members who are questioning their contribution and value.

6. Too much shame and blame, not enough accountability and learning.

7. People are opting out of vital conversations about diversity and inclusivity because they fear looking wrong, saying something wrong, or being wrong. Choosing our own comfort over hard conversations is the epitome of privilege, and it corrodes trust and moves us away from meaningful and lasting change.

8. When something goes wrong, individuals and teams are rushing into ineffective or unsustainable solutions rather than staying with problem identification and solving. When we fix the wrong thing for the wrong reason, the same problems continue to surface. It's costly and demoralizing.

9. Organizational values are gauzy and assessed in terms of aspirations rather than actual behaviors that can be taught, measured and evaluated.

10. Perfectionism and fear are keeping people from learning and growing.
Profile Image for Whitney.
131 reviews49 followers
August 12, 2019
Overall: If you have not read something by Brene Brown, then you absolutely need to!! This is a great one to start with and the information presented can be applied to all areas of life. Amazing messages, great writing style, versatile applications and this book will make you a better person 10/10

Summary: A compilation of thoughts and research on what makes an effective leader. She started by asking what people should do differently to lead during our modern times, when “we’re faced with seemingly intractable challenges and an insatiable demand for innovation.” Truly daring leaders, she explains, are prepared to be vulnerable and listen without interrupting. They have empathy, connecting to emotions that underpin an experience, not just to the experience itself. They have self-awareness and self-love, because who we are is how we lead.”

The Good: Brene Brown is brilliant. Her writing is no-nonsense, direct, and very applicable in every area of life. I started this book with the intent of learning ways to be a better leader a work but the material can be applied everywhere; as a significant other, as a parent, friend, at work, etc. Her voice and insight is amazing, inspiring, and I learn something new every time I read one of her books.

The Bad: How do we get more people in this world to read material like this??

Favorite Quotes:
“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.”

“People are opting out of vital conversations about diversity and inclusivity because they fear looking wrong, saying something wrong, or being wrong. Choosing our own comfort over hard conversations is the epitome of privilege, and it corrodes trust and moves us away from meaningful and lasting change.”

“The only thing I know for sure after all of this research is that if you’re going to dare greatly, you’re going to get you’re a** kicked at some point. If you choose courage, you will absolutely know failure, disappointment, setback, even heartbreak. That’s why we call it courage. That’s why it’s so rare.”

“We are not here to fit in, be well balanced, or provide exempla for others. We are here to be eccentric, different, perhaps strange, perhaps merely to add our small piece, our little clunky, chunky selves, to the great mosaic of being. As the gods intended, we are here to become more and more ourselves.”
Profile Image for Gábor Vészi.
32 reviews4 followers
November 8, 2018
I love Brene Brown, her first few books helped me a lot. Maybe I changed or she ran out of interesting new research to share, but I felt that this book
didn’t give me too much. It felt like a reiteration of her previous findings but the examples are more relevant for managers.
Profile Image for Nancy .
215 reviews4 followers
August 20, 2019
I couldn't even finish this thing, I had to quit halfway through because I was afraid that my eyes would get stuck from all the rolling. I found something on nearly every page that made me want to barf. The whole thing is a jargon-fest of cringeworthy TED Talk-esque aphorisms that sound profound but don't actually mean anything at all. Scattered among the nonsense new-age turns of phrase were cloying "inspirational" stories of how great leaders showed true vulnerability or whatever. The author constantly quotes herself, her own career, and books; a lot of the book felt like she was just regurgitating what she has previously written. She feels like the personification of a LinkedIn account--fake, sanitized, corporate, and pushy.
Profile Image for Amy.
2,556 reviews398 followers
October 23, 2020
Imagine I told my 64-year-old boss, "Let's rumble about that."
He'd laugh my face off and for good reason.
I did enjoy components of this book. Brené Brown frequently uses personal experiences to underlie a principle and her own vulnerability really helps set a tone. Unfortunately, it is not a tone I particularly found helpful.
While the book maintains the veneer of a well-researched, academic writing, it really reads more like a pop-psychology book more intent on providing buzz words than practical advice. As I read, I felt less and less drawn in by the practical tips and more and more skeptical about the overall value of what I was reading.
It isn't that there isn't good content here. In a shorter book, perhaps, or different format, much of this might come together. Perhaps even in some of her earlier books (reviewers seem more fond of those.) But this particular book didn't provide anything mind-blowing and, in fact, rather turned me off with several cringe-worthy catch-phrases.
Profile Image for *TANYA*.
1,002 reviews287 followers
April 28, 2019
I got quite a few good tips from this read, while others were just too time consuming. Lol. All in all, very helpful advice and strategies to apply towards my job and some even to my everyday personal life.
Profile Image for Bharath.
570 reviews434 followers
March 24, 2020
I started following Brene Brown’s work since a couple of years and read ‘Braving the Wilderness’ last year. I find Brene’s writings on vulnerability to be exceptional and the concept of ‘True Belonging’ she explained in ‘Braving the Wilderness’ to be very thought provoking. I had very high expectations going into this book and those expectations were partly met.

‘Dare to Lead’ explores the characteristics of brave leaders who are not afraid to demonstrate genuineness, dialogue on differences, and exhibit empathy. Vulnerability, courage, fear, shame, empathy and many other aspects are explored in depth. I especially liked how ‘shame’ is explored as a theme.

While there is a good amount of interesting material in the book, it does tend to be very theoretical & dry in many parts. The book vaguely refers to research all the time without enough personal / other people’s experiences which would have made it easier reading. Nevertheless, I do recommend the book as it has a lot of good behavioral insights which leaders should certainly know about and practice.

My rating: 3.5 / 5.
Profile Image for disco.
560 reviews221 followers
January 28, 2019
One of my favorite things about Brené Brown is her delivery. Her writing and conversational style is so easy to relate to and feels genuine. The skills and techniques reviewed in this book will help you formulate what kind of leader you want to be, giving you the tools to become a successful one. Although there is NO way I could finish this book on a “short flight” - it’s worth taking your time, writing notes, and comparing your own examples to.
Profile Image for Charlene Pineda.
46 reviews
November 8, 2018
I love Brené Brown! I didn’t love this book though. It felt like a repackaging of her previous works.
Profile Image for Monica.
518 reviews156 followers
April 17, 2021
Read over a long period as book club at work. Great real life examples and simple, easy to follow solutions. Recommend for all professional leaders!
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 6 books1,205 followers
October 12, 2018
I had a long drive to make this week and couldn't decide between buying this on audio or picking it up in print, and a friend suggested I listen to it on audio, then when it hits in paperback, buy that and mark it up. I think this was a great suggestion, and it was a nice reminder, too, how we pick up different things when we listed, as opposed to when we read in print.

Brown is one of the best thinkers on leadership and confidence, and this book is no different. There are strategies here for being a better person, for developing empathy (which is a wonderfully deep section in the book -- a lengthy discussion of empathy vs. sympathy helps conceptually define the two ideas and showcases actions that define each). I'm a big believer that part of success comes from understanding people are people, and Brown's big mantra throughout the book is "people, people, people." Everyone has a story and everyone's minds make up stories to help them get through the day. When we remember this simple thing, it becomes easier to be a leader and to be an advocate for what it is you want, what you need, and where you fit into the grander scheme of your life. Because this book isn't about leadership in organizations only; sure that's there. But it's a book about being a leader in your life and showing up, day after day, for yourself.

Maybe my favorite of hers so far. It incorporates a lot of what research she did in previous books but adds even more depth to them. I also enjoyed being reminded to reconsider what my core values are and I'm itching to get into her worksheets to suss those out. We all operate from a set (and yes, SET) of core values and when we can remember them, we can show up for ourselves again and again.

Brown reads the audio and performs it less like a stiff reader and more like she's giving a TED talk or having a conversation with a group of people in an organization. There are good breaks and laughs, and I just really like hearing these ideas and seeing what sticks from the verbal explanation. I'm eager to revisit this in a year or so in print and read it with pen in hand.
Profile Image for Traci Fontenot .
344 reviews19 followers
February 6, 2019
My first intro to Brene Brown and I just didn’t dig it. At all. I don’t know if all her books read like this or not but this was a major struggle for me. Read it for book club and honestly I think it would have been better if I had done audible because then it would have just been like a super long podcast.
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,205 followers
December 8, 2020
Brown's books are my favorites cuz she speaks data, and it is the only thing I trust
Profile Image for Connor.
681 reviews1,656 followers
January 23, 2019
I think this does what it is meant to well. It's a book that pulls together a lot of her other books and findings into one easily digestible source to prompt better connection and leadership within groups of people, mainly companies though she talks about school situations as well. Although, I think these also can be adapted and applied to all sorts of situation - that's probably why she's covered these topics in different books with different examples before and since. One thing that really resonated with me was the section on finding out the two core values of yourself and of others which enables you to recognize what people are expecting and where they're coming from a bit better.

This has an appeal to companies and leaders within companies big, small, and anywhere in between. I actually am having a GM I know soon to see what he will pull out of it and use in his own workplace.

I think for the avid Brown reader, you may find this repetitive as I've seen in reviews. To me, this book serves a great purpose, and I actually think it would be good jumping off point with Brown's books to see what peaks your interest the most and pick up the whole book dedicated to that topic. For instance, if BRAVING was something you connected with a lot, there's a whole book about BRAVING (which I read and really enjoyed). As usual, I wasn't prepared, so I feel like I need to reread this with a notebook handy to take notes for future reference.
Profile Image for Jessica.
348 reviews203 followers
June 13, 2019

After watching Brené Brown’s Netflix Special, The Call to Courage, I was interested in reading some of her work. I picked up Dare to Lead because it seemed like a good work book club pick with lots of discussion topics. I’ll be leading the book club next week and am so curious to hear what others thought!

I really enjoyed the overall message that courage and fear are not mutually exclusive, that clear is kind, who we are is how we lead, not to be afraid of hard conversations, and to always stay true to your values. And that staying true to your values is usually not the easiest path. There was also a huge focus on connection, which is what life is all about. There were so many professional and personal takeaways from this book, although it is geared more towards organizations. I would highly highly recommend this as a group read.
Profile Image for Amy.
913 reviews228 followers
March 10, 2019

A number of women are coming next Sunday for an In Real Life Bookclub - and we are doing this non-fiction pairing special; The women were invited to read either Becoming by Michelle Obama, or Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. Or Both! Many to most are reading both. I thought it would be a unique look at leadership from two very different but likely aligned perspectives. I figured we would have a really interesting conversation. I bet that we do.

I discovered Dare to Lead, because my friend in Florida who I greatly respect had read it and said it was life changing. Additionally, I had read The Gifts of Imperfection, her debut book years ago. Which I had some mixed to negative feelings about. Another friend was reading Daring Greatly, a precursor to this one, and was taken with it. I went to find my lengthy review of the points that I made about the positive and negatives of The Gifts of Imperfection, and I cannot find it anywhere. Its missing. But I had the feeling, I was feeling some of the same things about Dare to Lead. And I can picture myself in the meeting on Sunday, saying that I got so much more out of how to lead and think about Leadership from Becoming, than from Daring to Lead. Michelle just went out and did it, and this how-to book fell a little flat for me. I'm going to say why, but I have all these feelings about offending the author, who know has taken great pains in both books to talk about her shame journey. And how hard difficult conversations are to hold, but how necessary. But owns that she doesn't like to hear them. I feel a little responsible for her. This is what I found on Goodreads, which was not the entire story, for the Gifts of Imperfection.

"I was given this book by a patient of mine, who thought we might read it together. There are some very special quotes and lines in there, and all the ideas are right on point. I think we both felt, however, that there was something off putting about the writing. I found myself reluctant to even write this review and voice my thoughts, as I am always thoughtful of how the author will read it. First, its not my favorite thing to do, to rag on another psychologist, fighting the good fight out there. Second, this author, Brene Brown is a shame and resilience expert, and has fought her own shame her whole life. What I can say to her, is this: You had some wonderful things to share, and some of the quotes were so extraordinary. Whatever my thoughts about the writing being off putting, or even disagreeing with a thing or two: "Who Cares!" Embrace Yourself! Congratulations. You wrote a great book that will touch a lot of people. Nice Job!"

I find right now, I am feeling a bit more daring. I do think if this book helps you, great! Its really about emotional literacy, my favorite personal and professional phrase. And the connection between owning one's story, and having that help you have the courage to write your own ending to it. Maybe for me it was repetitive or basic, and I indeed wondered, how others were reading it. What was their takeaway. And for my friend in Florida, what about this was life changing? And glad for her and for others, if the book touched and moved. But my sticking point here is not as entailed as my sticking point for her debut book. I think if I am remembering, I felt she had a point in self-compassion and knowing one's limits and giving oneself permission to have imperfection and not be able to reach the goal. But I felt there needs to be a balance, and that there was a way in which she was letting us all of the hook, and encouraging us not to set the bar higher. And my patient agreed with me. I felt it was a little too self-serving to the permission, and less in service to meeting the goal of self-compassionate growth. This one, several books later, felt like it was more of a push to grow. But truth be told, my problem was her. I felt like story after story, she were hearing about her fears, her preoccupations, and how stuck she would get in the shame-judgement cycle. And something about it, instead of how it probably hit a thousand others as authentic empathic vulnerability that we all share, just hit me funny. I found myself feeling like I was a witness to her therapy process - and one of the incredible things about the therapy process, is that you can keep the thoughts, feelings, actions, behaviors that make you feel vulnerable, but just between the two of you, and choose what to share with trusted others and when. I admire a good sense of vulnerability, but I felt like I was swimming in a process I didn't quite want to. Like it was just a bit for me, (Oh I am going to totally offend the author here. I feel like I know her intimately, I and I feel her writhing and kicking, and crying, and taking it to her team and her husband and about a thousand others and writing another book about it).... It was just a bit of, and just a tinge of emotional vomit to me. Like, a little bit whiny - which I am sure she doesn't intend. And I feel, good for her to be putting herself out there - why I am being so judgy? And yet on the other hand, if I am deeply too worried about how she is going to react to and manage my review, even while reading the book, something is coming across that I gather she didn't intend for.

And yet there are some lovely things in it. She had the courage to share, has devoted a lifetime to giving others a certain courage and fearlessness, and ability to take charge in a heart-led authentic vulnerable way. And for that she should be commended. I believe in developing vulnerability, emotional literacy, and in heart led compassionate politics, a term from Becoming that only came out towards the end of it. Compassionate politics. What a novel idea? I maybe just thought for myself, I got that message far more from the style and format of Michelle's book, rather than Brene's. They make a nice pairing though. I look so forward to next Sunday night.

Oh one more thing. She likes the word "rumble". The idea of rumbling with vulnerability, rumbling with a difficult conversation or difficult feedback. Maybe that word will be exactly the right one for many. That it really feels like a rumble, a tussle, like when my three boys in any composition are wrestling on the bed, on the floor, or its a sudden "Big Pile on the Dog." But as a therapist and a person, vulnerability and difficult conversations have never felt like a rumble to me. I think about men and women, who even after many years and closeness, are trying to share something so deep, so personal, so laden with trust and shame and vulnerability, and the courage it takes to finally let something come between us and be shared, feels nothing like a rumble. Its such a tender moment of courage and trust. Its poignant and profound, and incredibly fragile. Its incredibly deep. I'd use the word profound twice. Maybe this is where I found Michelle and Brene to strike me so differently. Brene is more of a show woman, lecturer, bold inviter of process, shine the light on something. Michelle feels like more of an invitation, to think, to feel out, to be quietly led. She has incredible strength in her vulnerability, and she is indeed an inspiration. But her invitation to lead or be led feels much more quietly accessible. I am not being asked to rumble. I am being asked to hold hope. How do I think about my values, and how do I want to live them out - both women indirectly or directly ask me. Who do I want to be, and how do I wish to rumble? So I will end like this. To say thank God there is a Michelle, and a Brene, and an Amy, all of us doing this our own way in the way that is beautiful, strong, and authentic. And touching others, who are each all so different, and need different things to grow. I hope I have done the book, and Brene justice and compassion both in this very honest, vulnerable, rumbling and rambling review.
Profile Image for Andy.
1,353 reviews462 followers
January 16, 2022
Near the beginning of the book, the author talks about how the impact of her interventions on improving performance has been demonstrated in various corporations and non-profits, including the Gates Foundation. That kept me reading till the end because it would be impressive if she had helped improve the effectiveness of one of the world's biggest philanthropies. So what was her impact on outcomes?

I have no idea. Nothing like that ever comes up. The author describes herself as a "member of the scientific community" presenting the results of her research, so it's fair to evaluate the book in that context. So I looked stuff up. I searched Google, Google Scholar and Web of Science. I found nothing about evaluating the effect of anything. Interestingly I only found two scholarly works by her on Web of Science: "Shame resilience theory: A grounded theory study on women and shame," and "Searching for a theory: The journey from explanation to revolution." These are both heavy on theory and light on (devoid of) evidence of benefit. If I have missed a bunch of rigorous papers showing evidence of benefit, I hope someone will please send those to me.

I wish Dr. Brené Brown would "get in the arena" and "dare to lead" by scientifically testing her theories to see if they help people. I would love to find out that her approach does work. She could randomize different plants of corporations and see if they make widgets better if they get her training. Or, even better, randomize different charitable programs and see if they save more lives after she intervenes. I'll wait.

Much of the book is a series of self-deprecatory anecdotes about walking into a glass wall, yelling at her saintly husband, losing it on a business trip, setting completely unrealistic deadlines for her staff, etc. I would label these stories "embarrassing." At first it might seem odd to include these in a book on leadership advice, but I can see their value to the audience. The author seems to be a big mess but she's rich and famous, so maybe the rest of us can get rich too even if our lives are messed up. But the author does not explicitly make that point.

Instead, she wanders off into the topics of "shame," "vulnerability," "sympathy," "rumbles" and whatnot, redefining words in a way that I find confusing and somewhat concerning.( Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism) A basic old-fashioned way to detect propaganda is to say the exact opposite and then ask yourself if anybody ever says that or if that makes any sense at all. So for example the author emphasizes that feedback shouldn’t be just shame and blame. Does anybody say that feedback should be just shame and blame? I've never heard that. If you look over all the management books for the past however many decades back, how many say that--as opposed to "feedback sandwiches," "I statements," "difficult conversations," etc.?

I think the longest anecdote in the book is the story about a USAF officer trying to improve morale, who decided to look up what the Air Force manual says. Turned out it refers back to the original 1948 version, which had plenty of what she was looking for. To me, the interesting lesson here is the value of looking stuff up, i.e. the humility to learn from the experience of those who came before you. But that wasn't the moral of the story in the book.

One of the big Aha! moments was "self-kindness is self-empathy." Wow.
One of the big tips was to take a breath. Wow.
The book does contain much useful advice, but I think there are lots of other books to get that content from for people who don't appreciate this particular flavor.

Managing Your Mind: The Mental Fitness Guide
The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate
The One Minute Manager
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
The Sociopath Next Door
The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life

Managing Your Mind The Mental Fitness Guide by Gillian Butler The Myth of the Nice Girl Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate by Fran Hauser The One Minute Manager by Kenneth H. Blanchard The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey The 4 Disciplines of Execution Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Chris McChesney Flow The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout The Soul of Money Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life by Lynne Twist
Profile Image for Feisty Harriet.
1,202 reviews35 followers
November 29, 2018
I listened to this, and immediately listened to it again. Yep, that good. I love Brené's work and research, I have found it so immeasurably helpful and pertinent in my life and my relatioships. This book focuses her work on shame and communication into a workplace arena more than a personal growth and development arena, and I loved thinking about that perspective. In many ways this book reminded me of Creativity, Inc., by Ed Catmull, which I also loved.

I think my biggest mistake was listening to this (from the library) instead of buying my own copy and underlining/notating it to death. So, that will be my third reading, lol.

ETA 11/28: As I think more about this, there is one more thing that has stuck with me from this book: Brené's concussion. Several years ago I took an airbag RIGHT to the face (not the chest, the face, at super close range) and it knocked my brain against the inside of my skull so hard that I actually got a little split in my brain right in the center of my forehead. I had a migraine for about 4 months straight, could hardly do anything I'd done before (spreadsheets? right out. Reading? Nope. TV? Absolutely not. Music? Ugh, please no.) and it took a LONG time before I could do something so basic, like read an article either in print OR on a screen, without major pain in my head. Even though it was a small split, the blood leaking into my skull pooled behind my ears, leaving some very scary-looking bruises for about 10 days, in addition to the double black eyes from the impact. Concussions are SCARY business, and they take forever to properly heal, IF they properly heal. My concussion triggered off major panic attacks, which I've had to deal with ever since, and while they have lessened (once a month vs two or three times a day), they are still part of my life and probably always will be. It was so refreshing to hear someone, An Authority Figure, talk about how difficult HER concussion was, both the immediate incapacity, and the longer-term affects. Thanks, Brené, as always, for helping me feel a little more normal.
Profile Image for Bailey L..
209 reviews7 followers
November 2, 2021
I am wrestling with how to synthesize my thoughts on Dare to Lead. As an avid 5-year strong Brene fan with a vulnerability quote on my wall, I hate to say it, but she has started to drink her own Kool-Aid. This book is littered with self-promotion. It's also mainly a ploy for people to buy her books. I have read Daring Greatly twice and flip through it on a regular basis. I have my students read it and have made quizzes based on the chapters. So I can confidentally say that Dare to Lead is a rehashing of what she said in DG (and Rising Strong). If you have read these two books, you most definitely do not need to read Dare to Lead.

That is not to say I did not get anything out of this book. I found her last chapter to be particularly helpful. My favorite pithy quote from the book is, "Fear fills in the data gaps." When we make up stories about what's going on, we fill in the gaps with made up stories and fear. I have seen this play out in the workplace time and time again.
She also shares that trust is most easily built by a person asking for help. I found this interesting and probably new information for most. Furthermore, I have already been telling people about the value of having a strong emotional literacy and this new idea of only naming one or two values (I'm not sure I buy in yet -- I'll have to try it on some colleagues first). Finally, she provides an interesting framework for reflection when dealing with frustrating situations.

All in all, the message of this book is that we don't check our emotions at the door when we arrive at work. It comes with us. Pretty obvious, but it does seem like some people don't understand that we are just "feeling machines that think."

Anyway, as illustrated above, I did get value from the book, but I won't be telling anyone to read it.
18 reviews
September 3, 2020
The main thing I learned from Dare to Lead was that "#1 New York Times Bestseller" and "Wall Street Journal Bestseller" are no indication of the quality of writing or content.

The style of writing is bizarre: Brené Brown is a decorated academic researcher but writes as if she's speaking, littering the pages with North American colloquialisms ("I call BS!"), awkward epithets ("embrace the suck", "braving trust") and countless anecdotes told through reported speech miraculously remembered in precise detail and always perfect for the point being illustrated. Her biggest crime is arguably the attempt to co-opt the word "rumble", ascribing it a new meaning - a vain attempt to leave a legacy, perhaps.

It's a struggle to get to the content of the book, and what's there is comprised of interminable lists of closely-related items that Brown fails to distinguish between clearly. There are definitely a few interesting insights but they're suffocated by reams of filler. But my biggest disappointment was the lack of any real actionable, practical advice.

The point of the book - that leaders should embrace vulnerability - seems designed for a bygone era, when machismo permeated the attitude and behaviour of the higher-ups. Certainly in my experience in the corporate world in 2020 (admittedly in tech) leaders understand the need for open communication and empathy. It all helps to make Dare to Lead miss the mark.
401 reviews3 followers
October 18, 2018
This book combines Brene's (we're friends in my head) previous work and puts it in the context of being a strong, healthy leader. She takes her work on wholehearted living (Gifts of Imperfection), vulnerability & shame (Daring Greatly), the reckoning, rumble & revolution (Rising Strong), assuming the best intent (Braving the Wilderness) and much more and places those principles in an organizational environment. She gives practical advice about what it means to lead wholeheartedly, with vulnerability (and what it doesn't), how to encourage and empower your team, and how to allow everyone to be their whole and best selves, using stories in her signature style. Of course Brene will wreck your whole life, in a good way, so be prepared to have thoughts and feel feelings and react viscerally as applicable.
Profile Image for Katie.
511 reviews204 followers
March 7, 2021
I think there are some good tips in here but I’m not sure it warranted the need for a whole book. I appreciated the examination around what makes a “good leader” and how easy it is to throw out words that sound good (like courage) without much thought around what that means (Brown discusses how acknowledging vulnerability is also courageous).

I would recommend reading this mostly if you’re early in your career, or if you’re having a difficult time managing anxiety at work. I found the most useful information around normalizing the unhelpful ways we’re taught to manage stress and emotion.

See more of my reviews: Instagram
Profile Image for Melissa.
2,183 reviews205 followers
April 9, 2019
I feel like I could read this 20 times and learn something new every-time. I like to listen to these kinds of books and she has activities to do on her websight. I feel like this book would take lots of time to pull apart and digest. I am not a leader in the business sense or even in the world sense. I am a mother who leads my home, I am a church leader who leads my class and who contributes where I can there. I am a worker at my office who tries to lead with a smile and compassion. I read this book to help me with the relationships I have in every part of my life. You really need to listen with an open mind and the knowledge that you are not doing everything right and everyone can learn from this book. I loved it, at times I felt deeply involved in what she was saying. I am glad it was Brene who read her book, no one can say it quite like she can:}
Profile Image for Kim.
501 reviews36 followers
December 12, 2018
Definitely not my favorite Brene. This is the corporate version for sure, and lacks the insight and storytelling I most love her work for. A substantial portion of it is also resummarized from her previous books.
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