There is no playbook for leadership. But the last 2 years have given us an opportunity to re-imagine how we lead and navigate through uncertain times. The future of leadership belongs to the brave – someone who dares to be vulnerable.
What is Vulnerability in Leadership?
Dr. Brene Brown, the best-selling author including Dare to Lead and Daring Greatly, describes vulnerability as ‘engaging in life, being all in, dedicating yourself to something.’ She says that it is not about winning, and it is not about losing. Its about having the courage to show up and be seen.
For me, the perfect symbol of vulnerability is the Japanese art of Kintsugi. Broken pottery is mended with lacquer mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Instead of trying to mend the pieces invisibly, hiding the fact that they were ever broken, the cracks are transformed into decorations. The pieces become more valuable because of their flaws.
This is the moment when we can experience vulnerability as a superpower. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we are not pretending, we are not hiding—we are simply present with whatever is going on inside us.
Is Vulnerability a strength or a Weakness?
Many leaders I coach tend to question this approach and think they need to be invincible, have all the answers and be seen as problem solvers. They equate vulnerability as failing and as a weakness.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the treadmill of living the way we think we ‘should’ live that we fail to step back from the busy-ness of our lives and reflect on what we truly want to do.
I remember when my client SK stepped up to lead a function in Asia Pacific region for a global healthcare Org. She held the belief that she needed more knowledge & experience to be inspiring in her role. And to gain the trust of the team, she needed to have all the answers, never make mistakes & always make the right decisions.
She worked on her mindset and stepping away from the threadmill and learnt to be more authentic in her conversations. Breaking the chains of perfectionism was liberating and she joyfully embraced vulnerability and the results were powerful.
She gave herself permission to move from ‘being right’ to being curious. As a result, she experienced some incredible insights and results. She believes that staying real and being true to herself is one of the most courageous battles she has ever fought.
- She stopped trying too hard as she took them on a journey of self-learning, with her watching their back.
- This allowed her to stay out of judgment (of herself and others) & reduce her anxiety to perform as a leader.
- She was now naturally making genuine connections, building more trust and attracting more success for her team and consequently herself!
|How to be Vulnerable?
Here are a few simple yet catalytic first steps to build your courage muscle.
Over the years, I have discovered that many leaders pretended to be strong and confident, ultimately losing touch with their purpose and values and who they want to be. This inspired me to create a signature Unlocking Courageous Leadership Program that was based on the belief -“If you own your story, you can write a new beginning”.
If you are curious about what it could feel like to bring your whole self to leadership and how being authentic and vulnerable can help you be a better leader, come and join one of our upcoming workshops. You can email us at email@example.com to reserve your space now or request more information.
I am a courage catalyst, executive coach, facilitator, speaker and founder of Interact Consulting.