Facing the “F” Word in Leadership

First aid kit

I asked a world famous leader about frailty and leadership. He looked at me like I had ten heads. I felt embarrassed to have used the “F” word – frailty.

Leaders who changed the world like Gandhi and Jesus had frailties.

Frailty and strength live together.
One does not eliminate the other.


Mask-wearing is propagated by leaders who pretend they’re more than they are and followers who like it that way. Masks indicate:

  1. Frailties. Masks are for hiding, protecting, and pretending.
  2. Hypocrisy. Mask-wearing cultures need hypocrisy. Weak followers need “perfect” leaders to take responsibility for them. (See, “Whose Your Daddy”) Never trust anyone who does everything well.
  3. Authority is unbalanced. Mask-wearing leaders use authority and its associated trappings to hide frailties. In time, some come to believe they’re who they pretend to be.

The more you reject your frailties the more
you reject help and resent competence in others.

Example of frailty:

Jesus said to three of his followers, “I’m so sad, I think I might die. Stay awake with me.” (Paraphrased from Matthew 26:38)

Frailty guidelines:

  1. Share progress. Let others know your frailties by telling them about struggles you’ve faced, progress you’ve made or ways you’re mitigating them.
  2. Focus on strengths; acknowledge frailties. Whiners use frailties as excuses for poor performance.
  3. Transparency isn’t complete openness. The world, business, and leadership aren’t a hand-holding self-help group.
  4. Reveal what’s useful. Frailties, shared well, encourage. Poorly shared frailties discourage.
  5. Let others in. Frailties make room for the strengths of others.
  6. Share some frailties with a select few, not the masses. Don’t excuse, temper, or let it all out to everyone.
  7. Maintain optimism and confidence. Frailties aren’t an excuse to become a cry baby.

What benefits might emerge from sharing frailties? What dangers?

Check out the great list of leadership F’s on the Leadership Freak Facebook Page. While you’re there, add leadership G’s for tomorrow’s post.

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