RuthAnn's Reviews > Dare to Lead

Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
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it was amazing
bookshelves: recommended, nonfiction, work-related


I have gone on the record saying that I do not like reading business books because they are generally too long, with too much filler, and not enough salient action items. Dare to Lead, by Brene Brown, however, was a completely different reading experience. I stayed up late to read it, flagged so many pages, had to refrain constantly from reading lines out loud to my husband, made a running list of action items for follow-up, recommended it to people BEFORE I finished it, and as soon as I was done, I declared, "I need to own this book."

Dare to Lead incorporates concepts from Brown's previous works and puts them in the context of the workplace. The words seems fluffy and self-help-y, but the application is legitimate and hard-hitting. Brown writes very candidly about the personal responsibility to create a good working environment, as well as the importance of boundaries to maintain healthy relationships. Right now, the section of biggest impact for me was about values and how we truly live them out. She says that we don't have two sets of values: one for personal life and one for professional life. We are living out of one set of very few values, and what are they? I need to dig in and do the work, and I know that I'll refer back to this book a lot in the future.

Lots of quotes below! I can't wait to discuss this book at the April book club at work!


A Note from Brene
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. (xviii)

Check out the Dare to Lead hub at (5)

Four skill sets for daring leadership:
Rumbling with vulnerability
Living into our values
Braving trust
Learning to rise (11)

Rumbling with Vulnerability
Items that show up as things that get in the way of psychological safety in teams and groups include judgment, unsolicited advice giving, interrupting, and sharing outside the team meeting. The behaviors that people need from their team or group almost always include listening, staying curious, being honest, and keeping confidence. Dare to lead by investing twenty minutes in creating psychological safety when you need to rumble. (37)

We should all be held accountable for being both optimistic and realistic. If you gain a reputation for being an idealist, you lose credibility and trust. If you’re forced to be the reality-checker, you never get the opportunity to take chances and risk. (56)

The irony across all self-protection is that at the same time as we’re worrying about machine learning and artificial intelligence taking jobs and dehumanizing work, we’re intentionally or unintentionally creating cultures that, instead of leveraging the unique gifts of the human heart like vulnerability, empathy, and emotional literacy, are trying to lock those gifts away. (75)

… wherever perfectionism is driving us, shame is riding shotgun. (79)

When we feel joy, it is a place of incredible vulnerability – it’s beauty and fragility and deep gratitude and impermanence all wrapped up in one experience. (81)

… the cure for numbing is developing tools and practices that allow you to lean into discomfort and renew your spirit. (87)

Hierarchy can work, except when those in leadership positions hold power over others – when their decisions benefit the minority and oppress the majority. (96)

They [daring leaders] take the time to explain the “why” behind strategies, and how tasks link to ongoing priorities and mission work. Rather than handing down black-and-white mandates stripped of story, they hold themselves responsible for adding texture and meaning to work and tying smaller tasks to the larger purpose. (100)

Daring leaders fight for the inclusion of all people, opinions, and perspectives because that makes us all better and stronger. That means having the courage to acknowledge our own privilege, and staying open to learning about our biases and blind spots. (108)

… when we own our hard stories and rumble with them, we can write a new ending – an ending that includes how we’re going to use what we’ve survived to be more compassionate and empathic. When we deny our stories of struggle, they own us. They own us, and they drive our behavior, emotions, thinking, and leading. Daring leadership is leading from heart, not hurt. (114)

… in most cases, shame is hidden behind the walls of organizations. It’s not dormant – it’s slowly eating away at innovation, trust, connection, and culture – but it’s tougher to spot. (131)

Great leaders make tough “people decisions” and are tender in implementing them. That’s giving people a way out with dignity. (135)

… empathy isn’t about fixing, it’s the brave choice to be with someone in their darkness – not to race to turn on the light so we feel better. (142)

Six ways we tend to miss in regard to empathy (152-156)
1. Sympathy vs empathy: becoming enmeshed in the situation
2. The gasp and awe: strong negative reaction
3. The mighty fall: displaying disappointment
4. The block and tackle: scolding
5. The boots and shovel: refusing to acknowledge that the situation is bad
6. If you think that’s bad: one-upping the situation and stealing focus

Questions to consider in building empathy skills:
1. When you think about these six types of empathy misses, are there one or two that shut you down?
2. What emotion comes up for you when your sharing meets one of these barriers, and how does that affect your connection with the person?
3. On the flip side, how do you rate your own empathic skill?
4. Are there one or two responses that you typically use that you need to change?

Easy learning doesn’t build strong skills. (170)

“The reality is that to be effective, learning needs to be effortful. That’s not to say that anything that makes learning easier is counterproductive – or that all unpleasant learning is effective. The key here is desirable difficulty. The same way you feel a muscle ‘burn’ when it’s being strengthened, the brain needs to feel some discomfort when it’s learning. Your mind might hurt for a while – but that’s a good thing.” (170, quoting Marie Slaughter and David Rock, from the NeuroLeadership Institute, in Fast Company)

Living into Our Values:
If you’re not going to take the time to translate values from ideals to behaviors – if you’re not going to teach people the skills they need to show up in a way that’s aligned with those values and then create a culture in which you hold each other accountable for staying aligned with the values – it’s better not to profess any values at all. (190)

Silence is not brave leadership, and silence is not a component of brave cultures. (195)

Example: Operationalizing values into behaviors
Be brave:
I set clear boundaries with others
I lean into difficult conversations, meetings, and decisions
I talk to people, not about them (211)

When you have a value printed on posters hanging in the halls but you don’t dig into behaviors that support it and teach people those behaviors, you’re in BS territory. It starts to corrode trust. (214)

If we want to be values-driven, we have to operationalize our values into behaviors and skills that are teachable and observable. And we have to do the difficult work of holding ourselves and others accountable for showing up in a way aligned with those values. (216)

Braving Trust:
In The Thin Book of Trust, Feltman describes trust as “choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person’s actions.” He describes distrust as deciding that “what is important to me is not safe with this person in this situation (or any situation).” (222)

BRAVING inventory (225-226)

Learning to Rise:
“Revolution might sound a little dramatic, but in this work, choosing authenticity and worthiness is an absolute act of resistance. Choosing to live and love with our whole hearts is an act of defiance.” (271, quoting The Gifts of Imperfection)

As you think about your own path to daring leadership, remember Joseph Campbell’s wisdom: “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” Own the fear, find the cave, and write a new ending for yourself, for the people you’re meant to serve and support, and for your culture. Choose courage over comfort. Choose whole hearts over armor. And choose the great adventure of being brave and afraid. At the exact same time. (272)


Related books to look up:

Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For, by Bill Gentry
The Thin Book of Trust, by Charles Feltman
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Reading Progress

January 28, 2019 – Started Reading
January 28, 2019 – Shelved
January 30, 2019 – Shelved as: recommended
January 30, 2019 – Shelved as: nonfiction
January 30, 2019 – Shelved as: work-related
January 30, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-1 of 1 (1 new)

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Rachel The audiobook is fantastic too as Brené reads it herself and sometimes adds an aside or two. I got mine from my library's ebook/audiobook platform. Highly recommend!

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