Vulnerable vs. Needy

Leadership guru’s advocate for vulnerability in leaders. Additionally, high profile leaders believe in vulnerability. Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks believes vulnerability is the most important leadership quality. (Stated on TV interview)

Vulnerable leaders expose themselves to being wounded or criticized by acknowledging their limitations. They say things like, “I don’t know.”

Vulnerability cultivates supportive relationships.

Vulnerability creates environments where others give honest, valuable input.

One reason leaders aren’t vulnerable is they are needy. They need approval, power, respect, honor, control, ________ (you fill in the blank).

Needy leaders create environments where feedback is dishonest.

Needy leaders don’t hear the truth they hear what they need to hear. Subordinates tell them what they need to hear.

Vulnerable leaders are:

#1. Honest

#2. Trusting

#3. Confident

#4. Focused on solutions

Needy leaders are:

#1. Fakers

#2. Fearful

#3. Closed

#4. Self-serving

Inauthentic, needy leaders create walls that make them feel alone and underappreciated. Authentic leaders open windows and doors for honest, supportive relationships.

Three ways to develop authentic vulnerability:

#1. Shift from focusing on leadership skills to life skills. Successful leadership is about the whole you not isolated techniques and strategies. Life skills go beyond listening techniques and motivation strategies to finding fulfillment and joy.

#2. Uncover your values. Vulnerable leaders live values-driven lives. They courageously speak and act in ways that honestly reflect who they are.

#3. Think about what you think rather than what others think. Last night at Colorado State University President, Dr. Tony Frank exhibited vulnerability. He broke protocol by saying he was nervous about trying something new. He spoke directly to a graduating senior and asked them a question. It was unrehearsed. It had never been done before. There were technical glitches. I loved it. The audience responded with applause. He was vulnerable and it drew us to him.


What other ways can leaders develop authentic vulnerability?


Leadership Freak

Dan Rockwell