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BJS Bookshelf: Dare to lead

Authors: Recommendation and Article by Dr. Afsheen Zafar, Professor of Surgery at Islamic International Medical College, Riphah University, Islamabad.

Based on Brené Brown’s research work on connection and vulnerability and building on her previous books, this book has been written for anyone who works in a team and is in a leadership role. The epigraph of the book is the famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt about the critic and the arena and she builds the definition of courage and vulnerability around it. She then portrays what daring leadership looks like in real life compared to armored leadership, a term she uses for the conventional response to fear and the feelings of the team or the leader himself. Contrasting these two, she gives practical tips and actionable concepts to practice the daring leadership qualities. The book has a lot of real-life examples from her own and others’ experiences and is relatable to anyone who has ever worked in a team and dared to lead.

Why Surgeons should read this book:

Surgeons are uniquely placed in teams from the start of their careers as both team members and leaders. Even when in junior positions they do lead at times while at the same time being led by a senior. They are all too familiar with the concepts of arena and experience their facedown time when they fail at something especially in front of others. Brené has talked elaborately around the concepts of perfectionism, shame, vulnerability, empathy and courage. Every surgeon feels vulnerability and shame while working in a culture which is inherently tuned for surgeons to be a know-it-all, show results, be perfect and look strong. The book gives practical tips for navigating your way through these emotions, being a daring learner, and leading from the heart. It gives practical tips on how to be a daring leader who doesn’t operate from a defensive position. Empathy skills are described in the book in detail as an antidote to shame and give a new perspective to a common concept. These practical tips along with many others on how to give and receive feedback, developing self-awareness and engaging in tough conversations make it a very useful and relevant read for surgeons.


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