Dare to Lead

Full of interesting insight which I think is best appreciated and understand in print rather than audio.

Book title

Dare to Lead


Brené Brown

Standalone or series

Series (kind of, non-fiction book one of a number of different aspects of a similar theme over the years).

First time reading this author?


Why I picked this

I’ve read so many recommendations from people I admire I had to add it to my TBR pile (or TBL pile since I initially purchased as an audiobook). It seemed like a nice listen on from Michelle Obama’s autobiography Becoming.

Review copy or purchase

Purchase. I bought the audiobook using one of my Audible subscription credits, and have now bought a paperback aswell because I think that will help me for some parts which didn’t work as well as audio.

What it’s about

A look at how to bring bravery to leadership by taking risks. Not necessarily risks for the business – not the kind of stuff that ends up on a corporate risk register – but personal risks. The kind that come with trying and being vulnerable enough to know that you might fail, but that a risk of failure comes as part of of the deal. It’s based on years of research with leaders that Dr Brené Brown and her team have undertaken and builds on previously published works.


I’ve heard good things about Dr Brené Brown’s writings and work. Many of the women I admire professionally talk positively about how her research has helped them reassess the way they work, and build their confidence.

After listening to Michelle Obama’s autobiography Becoming on audiobook, I decided Dare to Lead would be a good follow-up to accompany the dog walk. While it builds on Brené’s previous work, I was pleased to hear in the introduction that it covers some of the foundational concepts introduced in her previous books, which means it’s not necessary to have read those before starting Dare to Lead.

I did find some of the language off-putting. There’s a heavy dose of vocabulary used in a very specific way, which I would just feel pretentious using. ‘Rumble’ being the main one. It’s just a word used to describe a more open and indepth conversation on a subject, but it makes my skin crawl to imagine using it. In this respect choosing the audiobook route for Dare to Lead really worked for me. Listening while I was walking the dog made it easier to push past the particular words used to listen to the solid theory behind the language. If I’d been reading the book I would have ditched it quite early on because of my snap judgement that the jargon was a way to make the book seem more high concept than it is.

Thankfully I did stick with it, and if you also find management speak a turn off I’d urge you to do the same. Once I got past my prejudice I found this really insightful. In most places it is actually as plain speaking as you would wish, using real life stories and scenarios to help put the concepts into context. That cartoon Phineas and Ferb and Professor Umbridge from the Harry Potter series are used as ways of explaining the concept, shows that the aim is to aid understanding, not to exclude readers.

As I got further into the audiobook though I started to regret choosing this as a way to read Dare to Lead. While the audiobook is very well done to acknowledge the different experience of a listener versus a reader, the Living into Our Values section is really quite difficult to follow as an audiobook. There is supporting material on Brené’s website to acknowledge this, including the list of values included in the book, so that you don’t have to listen through a massive list of single words and try to absorb them. However, by the time I got that far in to the audiobook I was convinced that there was value in the concepts so decided to purchase a physical book which I can read in a more skimming or targeted way to understand the things I heard in the audio version. So, while the audiobook helped me get past the resistance I think I would have felt with an actual book, the actual book is what I think I need to put the principles into action.


Rating: 4 out of 5.
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