7 Powers of Vulnerability
Patrick Lencioni said, “I don’t think a leader can be too vulnerable.” It still freaks me out. But the ability to connect, influence, and inspire requires vulnerability.
If others play it safe, lack energy, or isolate themselves, the problem might be that you lack vulnerability.
Yesterday I had a conversation with Jon Katzenbach and Gretchen Anderson, authors of, “The Critical Few: Energize Your Company’s Culture by Choosing What Really Matters.” I asked them what questions I should ask them. Jon said:
- How to measure progress.
- How to identify the right behaviors.
- How to deal with individual emotions.
When I asked the last question, Jon said,
“I don’t think we’re quite there yet. But … I’m pretty sure we can do it.”
Jon Katzenbach in his own words (1:06)
7 powers of vulnerability:
Soft skills require more courage than hard skills.
The risk of vulnerability is rejection that stings your soul.
I remember hearing a senior member of the management team say she was drowning. In more than 15 years I’d never heard anything like it. Others had complained about the workload. But no one had come close to making it human.
Before this, the company line was, “Do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
But now, three years into her new position, this senior manager said she was drowning in the workload and needed help. It was counter cultural. It was unprecedented vulnerability. She was drowning because her boss had allowed the situation.
Vulnerability invites loyalty and connection.
I was eager to help. When people are drowning, you throw them a rope.
How to be vulnerable like a leader:
Speak the truth with forward-facing optimism. Believe in yourself and your team, even when you practice vulnerability. That’s what Jon did. “I’m pretty sure we can do it.”
How might leaders overcome fear of vulnerability?
What does leaderly vulnerability look like?
Would you check the video as I can’t get it to play.
Thanks Steve. I couldn’t get it to work either. To solve the issue I converted it to audio. Cheers
Great topic today. I would HIGHLY recommend watching Brene Brown’s video on vulnerability and leadership and/or reading her latest book Dare to Lead.
Thanks Rick. Gotta love Brene Browns work. Here last book, Dare to Lead, is must reading. Cheers.
I believe that true growth and expansion happens when leaders show vulnerability. It’s possibly about timing? I’ve been vulnerable at the “wrong” time and been rejected. Feeling that the time is now, presenting your situation, being genuine and vulnerable can be an opening for new energy and ideas!
OMG!!! I love this lesson. I had a lesson a few days about listening and I became very vulnerable and the doors and conversations opened up like the parting of the “red sea” It was a Ah ha moment. Vulnerable to know what you don’t know and to know and have the courage to fix it right away. Employees love vulnerability, they respect it, as so it seems to me. Good post!
How might leaders overcome fear of vulnerability? By doing it afraid.
Does successful leading others start with leading oneself into successful behaviors?
I am starting a second business (after selling my first one-man show business) and have failed lead employees into scaling and growing my first company. I have a history of sabotaging my successes over the past 2 decades and want to stop this cyclical rise and fall. I identify with Brene’s books and now reading “Dare to Lead” and yet to alter the constant feelings of inadequacy especially after achieving something.
Great thoughts! I agree with you on the importance of vulnerability as a leader and in my business in general. The Brene Brown references are great. I am reading Rising Strong and love her approach since we all fall at some time. An adjunct to this is also being your True Self.
Sometime it is hard to be vulnerable when pride takes control.
This topic could not have come at a better time in my life! Like the member of the management team mentioned, I have also felt sensation of drowning in struggles both at work and personally. I could never understand why the phrase, “I’m feel like I am drowning”, seemed to be the best description. Now I keep going back to your comment that the term was now humanized, and I could not agree more.
Many environments, specifically the workplace environment, have developed this culture of being tough and “showing no weaknesses”. The desire to protect oneself from harm through being exposed is an instinct. Keeping ideas to yourself because you are afraid criticism, or even further by NOT taking a risk at work because of fear of financial detriment is understandable. This is where management and other leaders can make a change. Having a supervisor that is vulnerable and open makes it so much easier to be comfortable doing so yourself. If more and more employees are encouraged to do so and feel that they have the space to push themselves, the business will begin to thrive. People work better when they feel better, and we want to feel that we are valued for our contributions. Changing the workplace culture to foster new creative ideas and encourage people to bring their best self to work every day is challenging, but far from impossible. The walls that we feel protect us are the same walls that hold us back, but by no means have to be permanent!