Dare to Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts – Brene Brown Book Summary

Dare to Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts – Brene Brown | Free Book Summary

Dare to Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts – Brene Brown

Dare to Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts is a book by Brene Brown which covers a wide range of topics related to leadership and courage. It looks at how we can cultivate courage and build brave leaders, as well as how to have tough conversations and show up with our whole hearts. 

The book explores how to become more aware of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors so that we can become better leaders, make better decisions, and ultimately create cultures of courage. 

Subscribe to AtomicIdeas Newsletter (Free!)

AtomicIdeas newsletter brings you one great bite-sized idea every day, curated from world's best non-fiction books, articles, podcasts..and more. Actionable. Atomic. In just 5 minutes!


The book also provides practical strategies and tools to help leaders build courage and make a positive difference in their organizations.

Learn how to lead with courage

Across the world – from Argentina to Australia, Canada to Cambodia – there are managers, directors, and executives who all want to know the answer to one simple question: How do I become a better leader?

Free book, podcast summaries

The key to really great leadership is vulnerability, speaking your truth, being courageous, and sticking to your values.

Begin your leadership journey by reframing your idea of vulnerability.

What makes you feel vulnerable?

Even though vulnerability is a universal feeling that we all experience, we still sometimes associate it with “weakness” or feeling inadequate. We worry that admitting we don’t know all the answers will make look us stupid.


Vulnerability is your winning hand. It’s the cornerstone of human innovation and creativity, and it requires you to get open and comfortable with failure.

More often than not, you’re going to need to fail multiple times before your team eventually lands on that one idea, that clear “aha” moment, that helps move everything forward.

Of course, we all want to grow and transform. But how many of us actually do this? The research shows that the majority of us avoid being clear when talking to others. We feel it’s kinder to avoid being honest.

We also feel that it’s easier to avoid confrontation and conversation. These difficult chats can sometimes cost us personal and emotional energy. But what about the long-term cost of steering away from tricky conversations?

Get to know the problem

The first step in solving any problem you might face is to get curious. Rather than simply apologizing to your team and then sweeping the problem under the carpet, really allow yourself to listen to your team. Probe the problem.

A good tip is to remember the 8-second rule. Extreme discomfort lasts no longer than 8 seconds; after that it gets easier. So sit tight and breathe through those opening, difficult 8 seconds. This is so much easier than having to deal with the long-term fractures that open up when we swipe problems away.

Another important thing to remember is that you don’t need to have the answers right away. Instead, start by showing your team that you’re committed to finding the answers. Explain that you need time to investigate the problem properly, and perhaps offer to circle back the next day or week.

This avoids rushing into promises you can’t keep or providing answers that hold no weight.

Creating meeting spaces that encourage a company culture of sharing and honesty

One great way to create a culture of vulnerability and curiosity within meetings is to use permission slips. These slips give you and your team the opportunity to do a self check-in before a meeting begins – a chance to identify your fears, hopes, and intentions.

Offer each member of your team a Post-it note, and invite them to list one emotion or action they’ll allow themselves to fulfill over the course of the meeting. You can use permission slips in private or as a group. They’re a valuable way of setting the tone for the rest of the meeting.

Make use of Storytelling

People use stories to make sense of their work and their place within a team. The brain likes clear endings with heroes and villains, but missing information, uncertainty, and lack of transparency create discomfort and prompt us to fill in the gaps with our own stories.

This can be dangerous in a business setting because team members may start creating their own truths, costing the business in the long run. Good storytelling is crucial in providing clarity and preventing misunderstandings.

Your core values

Clarifying your core values can give you a sense of direction and conviction in decision-making. Your values act as a North Star, guiding your actions and motivating you to keep going in tough times.

Narrowing down your list of values to two actionable ones can make them more effective in driving your behavior, as too many values can become meaningless.

The myth of Perfectionism

To be a courageous leader, it’s important to embrace vulnerability by letting go of the myth of perfectionism. Perfectionism, often linked to seeking approval and anchored in one’s sense of self, can lead to a cycle of people-pleasing and competitiveness.

Healthy success drive comes from a self-focused desire to improve rather than seeking others’ approval.

Get the book!

Get AtomicIdeas newsletter delivered in your inbox.