Dare to Lead book review


Brené Brown

By Human Library Creator- Michaella Voss

Our book for October symbolises the start of a new journey within our Bellbird Book Club as we begin to delve into the subject of leadership. Our selected book, Dare to Lead is written by entrepreneur and Doctor of Social Work, Brené Brown. For those of you that know me personally, you will know that I am a Brené Brown fangirl through and through. I really hope that you are just as captivated by the teachings throughout this book!

If you think after reading the title that this book isn’t for you because you aren’t in a management or leadership role, the book will allude to the fact you are mistaken. Dare to Lead helps us to recognise that leaders are just people who hold themselves accountable for celebrating other people’s success and encouraging them to develop in their own potential. Under this definition, you may begin to notice that you are in fact a leader across many different spaces within your life.

A close friend of mine once told me, “Michaella, you never leave a job, you leave a manager”. Now, this may not entirely true for everyone, but what I am sure we can all agree on is the impact of organisational leadership. Good leadership can improve workplace satisfaction and facilitate individuals to grow to their fullest potential. Toxic leadership achieves the opposite. So, how do organisations work to ensure the quality of their leadership? Brené suggests throughout Dare to Lead that the happy, healthy and productive workspaces that we all aspire to be part of are driven by leaders who dare to be courageous.

Demonstrating courage across both our personal and professional lives is at times challenging and we must dare ourselves to leave the safe parameters of our comfort zones to do so. Brené Brown throughout her work towards her doctorate, studied the concept of courage in great detail. Her findings across her research are scattered throughout this book. Brené writes “Courage is a collection of skill sets and 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.”

Shying away from difficult conversations breeds cultures of fear and distrust and does not solidify integral relationships. Good leadership is brave and courageous.

Alongside courage, Brené suggests that leadership is only enhanced by open vulnerability, both with ourselves and others. Brené clarifies that “Vulnerability without boundaries is not vulnerability, it is fear and insecurity.” Leaders still protect and serve others but in a way where they recognise themselves as learners and are always open to, and thankful for, the feedback from others. In being vulnerable, we remove our ‘armour’ and control our fear, which in turn allows us to be courageous when we need to. Dare to Lead describes vulnerable leaders as those who never assume superiority and pretend to have the right answers. Instead, good vulnerable leaders remove their egos, stay curious and ask questions.  Power is not a finite resource that we must hoard and keep to ourselves. Power can be infinite instead but only when shared between people. This is how leaders empower their team and what allows innovative and creative cultures to emerge.

Leadership is not a function to drive workplace productivity, leadership is a way of being. Dare to Lead works to rehumanise the concept of leadership and here at Bellbird we want to spread this revitalised definition of what leadership means and looks like across the social sector. At the heart of good leadership is a love and passion for those being served. We need to facilitate brave spaces where we can support one another and courageously and kindly challenge the things we need to. This is fundamental in supporting our current and emerging leaders to grow and flourish.


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