Vulnerability: Not for the Faint of Heart


Properly understanding oneself

Humility and vulnerability are qualities not thought highly upon in business. But, unfortunately, the words make many leaders uncomfortable. They feel weak, soft, and quiet in a world that worships the powerful, prestigious, and get-it-done at all cost leaders.

However, I believe the current is slowly shifting.

The business world is beginning to understand and change towards a different leadership type that taps into a power that challenges the traditional business model. Change leadership starts at the top with different visions and solid trust.

Brené Brown defines vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. But vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our most accurate measure of courage.” Vulnerability does not develop overnight. It’s not a character trait you put on for a time or when you need something done. Vulnerability comes from a proper understanding of oneself, and with that understanding comes great leadership power.

A courageous, vulnerable leader understands three things:

1.) I’m Not Perfect

Being in touch with failure allows a leader to lead with vulnerability. Failure in this society is shamed, avoided, and glossed over. But sometimes, failure is just failure, and the leader who is aware of their failure and lets it remain failure is a leader who will naturally lead with more humility. Their highs and lows won’t be so extreme; the success and failures will even out when a leader leads with this type of vulnerability. When failures are out in the open, there is less height to fall from. The vulnerable leader is willing to go here first. They are comfortable enough with the uncomfortable to admit and take the hit for failure.

2.) It’s Not About Me

When leaders can openly talk about how and where they’re not perfect, they understand a vital piece of being a change leader: it’s not about me. Our society is set to worship the latest and greatest, the shiny and flashy, the loud and attention-getting. So, we create marketing plans to catch the eye and wallets of customers. Making money is the point, and because the human heart is bent on worship, a marketer’s dream comes true when their product fits the bill for customers.

But a leader determined to lead differently can detach from needing to be “the man.” It’s easy for anyone who has garnered attention, praise, and a paycheck for work they did themselves. It’s easy to think, “I earned this,” or “this success is directly related to my abilities and talents,” especially when people and profit continue to reinforce that message.

3.) I Need You

A leader who understands their imperfections and knows it’s not all about them can look outside themselves to garner help:

  1. One person cannot do it all, so a humble leader will have the strongest team because they recognize where they are weak and hire someone strong in that area.
  2. A vulnerable leader listens because someone else’s idea does not threaten them.
  3. A vulnerable leader celebrates because they see how a team member’s strengths help the whole team.
  4. Other people’s success or accomplishments don’t threaten a vulnerable leader because they’ve already come to grips with two important facts: I’m not perfect, and it’s not about me.

These concepts are not actively pursued in the business world but should be. I help companies, teams, CEOs, and leadership teams develop leadership skills to lead from the heart, not just the head. This great power will move people to achieve more in life than just reaching goals and meeting deadlines. Let’s connect today.