Professional Development Platform

January 22, 2021 Reading Time: 20 Minutes Contributor: Chris Baker

Dare to Lead – Brene Brown

This book is the bible for courage-building in the workspace. This book is about owning your fears,
choosing courage over comfort and building an organisational culture based on bravery & vulnerability.


Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston where she holds
the Huffington Foundation. She has spent the past two decades studying courage,
vulnerability, shame, and empathy. She is the author of five #1 New York Times
bestsellers: The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, Braving the

Part 1 – Rumbling with Vulnerability

‘Rumbling with vulnerability’ is the heart of daring leadership. A “rumble” is a conversation where people embrace discomfort, vulnerability and challenge in order to serve the mission and each other – not their egos. Being vulnerable is the emotion we experience during times of uncertainty, failure, risk, and we need be brave enough to acknowledge, embrace and rumble with these emotions if we are to be successful.

In this part Brenee challenges us to recognise the armour we wear and to put it aside. The table below shows some examples of armoured leadership.

Driving perfectionism and fostering fear of failureWorking from scarcity and squandering opportunities for joy and recognitionNumbingPropagating the false dichotomy of victim or viking, crush or be crushed
Being a knower and being rightHiding behind cynicismUsing criticism as self-protectionUsing power over others
Hustling for our worthLeading for compliance and controlWeaponizing fear and uncertaintyRewarding exhaustion as a status symbol and Attaching productivity to self-worth
Tolerating discrimination, echo chambers, and a “fitting In” cultureCollecting gold starsZigzagging and avoidingLeading from hurt

Reflective Questions

How often do you feel vulnerable ?
How comfortable are you rumbling with your vulnerability? (exploring the why)
What armour do you wear?

Part 2 – Living into our Values

Living into our values is one of the four skill sets that make up daring leadership. It means that we do more than profess our values, we practice them. We walk our talk—we are clear about what we believe and hold important, and we take care that our intentions, words, thoughts, and behaviors align with those beliefs.

In this part Brene challenges leaders to stop talking a big game and plastering their walls with posters of their values and to start operationalising them into teachable and observable behaviours. This process gives organizations shared language and a well-defined culture. It helps determine cultural fit during hiring, and offers very straightforward standards of behavior.

Reflective Questions

What are your personal values? (The beliefs you hold to be most important)
Would other people be able to identify your values?
What behaviours do you have than demonstrate your values?

Part 3 – Braving Trust

Trust is built in small moments and holds teams and organisations together. Leading with courage and vulnerability is only possible within a culture of trust and those have to be proactively created.

In this part Brene introduces the BRAVING inventory which is a set of behaviours that help to generate trust:

  • Boundaries: You ask about and respect boundaries. You are willing to say no.
  • Reliability: You do what you say you’ll do.
  • Accountability: You own your mistakes, apologise and make amends.
  • Vault: You don’t share information or experiences that are not yours to share.
  • Integrity: You choose courage over comfort. You choose what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy.
  • Nonjudgement: You ask for what you need and talk about feeling both yours and others without judgement.
  • Generosity: you extend the most generous interpretation to the intentions, words, and actions of others.

Reflective Questions

What levels of trust exist in your academy / team?
What levels of trust exist in your working relationships with others?
What are you doing to proactively build trust?

Part 4 – Learning to Rise

To succeed as daring leaders, we must build the skills to get back up when we fall (Learning to Rise), because all daring leaders are going to fall. It comes with the territory.

In this part Brene describe three stages of learning to rise:

  • The Reckoning: knowing that we’re experiencing a strong emotional response and then getting curious about it.  Brown claims that not many of us get through the reckoning because instead of recognising our emotions and getting curious about them, we offload them onto others.
  • The Rumble: When we are in an emotional struggle, and in the absence of data, we make up stories that help to make sense of the emotions we are feeling. The Rumble is the uncomfortable process we undertake to explore and uncover the “truth”, which is often quite different to the story we initially told ourselves.
  • The Revolution: Claiming ownership of our emotions and behaviours and initiating change is a revolutionary step and one that requires courage. In this stage our new thoughts and behaviours enable us to rise again and to rise in a better place.

Reflective Questions

How good are you are recognising your emotions?
What is your typical response when you feel a strong emotion?
How comfortable are you at exploring your emotions?
What stories do you tell yourself about the emotions you feel?
How often do your emotional experiences lead to personal change?

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