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:

  1. How to measure progress.
  2. How to identify the right behaviors.
  3. 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)

(Mike Howard interview)

7 powers of vulnerability:

  1. Hope.
  2. Courage.
  3. Energy.
  4. Connection.
  5. Respect.
  6. Loyalty.
  7. Grit.

Soft skills require more courage than hard skills.

The risk of vulnerability is rejection that stings your soul.

I’m drowning:

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?