Brave Leadership. (2018). Kimberly Davis. Greenleaf Book Group Austin, TX. 295 pp. ISBN: 9781626344334

Review by: Jennifer Wells, Upper Division Advising Center, Ball State University, [email protected].

In the book Brave Leadership, author Kimberly Davis makes an astute observation. When leaving high school and going to college to study theater, they no longer felt brave. “It didn’t feel safe to question and explore and try new things” (p. 2). This is likely the opposite of how most colleges would like their students to feel, but it is an anxiety academic advisors see daily. When wondering if this book will relate to NACADA core competencies and values, this is a promising start.

Brave Leadership is an exploration of both bravery and leadership, and how rethinking our past ideas about these subjects can help us evolve. When discussing being brave, Davis is talking about the ability to be open and authentic (p.11). Authenticity is described as “genuine, worthy of trust, reliable, and believable” (p. 37). Leadership is described as “not about title, position, or power. A leader is someone people want to follow, not have to follow.” (p. 14). As advisors, we need to build rapport and trust with our advisees to make the experience of their education as positive as possible. Given the size of our caseloads and the uniqueness of each student, building rapport can seem impossible at times. This book examines how leaders (in any capacity) can build that trust with others, as well as confidence in themselves.
Davis gives several examples using theater (p. 87), and explains how that translates into everyday situations. Those without a theater background may have a hard time relating. However, they were able to convey the message and tie the chapter together nicely. Ultimately it was sometimes difficult to follow the examples, which was the main weakness of the book.

The author uses many stories from clients they have coached. They are able to highlight the specific barriers and gateways to brave leadership through these stories and provide insight about tools the reader can implement on their own path to becoming a brave leader. These case studies were helpful in illustrating situations the reader might come across in their own lives, and provided strength to the author’s themes.

The case study style of the book is effective overall and gets the author’s points across. It is engaging and very organized, making it easy to refer back to and follow. While there is not much in the way of evidence, given the intuitive and individual nature of bravery and leadership among people, it would be difficult to study. The book relates very well to academic advising. The NACADA conceptual competencies of advising approaches and strategies, as well as how equitable and inclusive environments are created and maintained, are directly related to the topics of authenticity, building trust, and getting buy-in from those we are trying to lead. The relational competencies also parallel the book, as the main theme is about relationships. In addition to these, the NACADA core values of respect, inclusivity, empowerment, and integrity are all touched upon within Brave Leadership.

In conclusion, Brave Leadership strongly echoes the themes in NACADA’s core values and core competencies, as well as the daily processes of academic advising. Short, organized chapters make it very easy to follow, and to pick up quickly where left off. I enthusiastically recommend this book to my colleagues in academic advising.

Brave Leadership. (2018). Book by Kimberly Davis. Review by Jennifer Wells. Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book
Group, 295 pp. ISBN 9781626344334

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2017). NACADA core values of academic
advising. Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Pillars/CoreValues.aspx 

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2017). NACADA academic advising core
competencies model. Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Pillars/CoreCompetencies.aspx

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