Why being vulnerable makes you a better leader!

By , September 19, 2012 11:30 pm

“Being vulnerable takes a great deal of courage because it means letting go of the old notions of control, forgetting forever the illusion that you can be in control.”

~ James A Autry, Author

 

Here’s how I see it…

Being vulnerable is an essential characteristic of being an authentic leader because you transcend to a deeper level of connection and meaning to your work, your life and your dreams. It evokes your spirit of self-leadership and gives you permission to be your real authentic self.

There’s always an element of discomfort and self-doubt at the start of any leadership workshop, as the participants inwardly compare themselves to the other people in the room.

I recently trained the first module of leadership programme and was surprised to see three different levels of management on the same workshop. How can you be fully open to learning if you have your boss or your team members in the same room?

It was a risky experiment…

Would people be open to learning? Would they be open and honest or would they just pay lip service to each other in order to seek approval?

This risk paid off BIG time…

What I witnessed in the classroom was transformational… I observed a deeper human connection to each other and the meaning of work. Egos and fixed mindsets dissolved before my eyes as people openly shared their growing pains and were prepared to learn from each other.

The whole experience actually made me a little teary!

Here’s why being vulnerable can make you a better leader in your life…

We are more similar than you think. Whoever we are, however we look and whatever role we play in the world, we all have similar hopes and fears, ambitions and desires. We all experience loss, grief, love and achievement.

People who develop a fixed mindset perceive the world through a distorted lens where some people are superior and others inferior. Their ego protects them by constantly comparing them to others and they feel a need to display their superiority. They don’t take their weaknesses seriously because it’s too risky.

Here’s how the EGO sees it: There’s a huge risk in stepping away from what you do well in order to try to master something new… don’t do it!

You get to be yourself. Sometimes we sacrifice who we are for the sake of what we perceive other people think we are. The best gift you can give the world is an authentic YOU. Knowing yourself gives you the confidence to hold the same values in whatever role you are playing in work or your life. You are the same REAL person in every situation and you’re not trying to be someone or something else. You are living true to yourself, being honest and open irrespective of status or ego.

It takes great courage to be vulnerable because you’re letting go of an illusion of control. Our true power comes from our ability to recognize that we can’t always be in control and it’s okay to ask for help and the support of others. You can openly admit when you are wrong. Being vulnerable isn’t always a safe option because it means playing outside of your comfort zone, where it can feel unsafe and uncomfortable. It’s easy for others to ridicule you, especially when you’re trying something new. Remember that ridicule and criticism is a reflection of the other person’s fear because they feel threatened (it’s not about you).

You connect with yourself at a deeper level. You’re being honest with your feelings and open to doubt, fear and uncertainty. Most of us learn to hide our feelings and protect ourselves in early life because it is perceived as a sign of weakness, so you push them deep down inside and repress them. Knowing yourself helps you to have a deeper faith in your intuition.

You don’t seek approval from others. Acceptance is more important than approval. You listen to others and accept people without judgment. You don’t tell people what you think they might want to hear. You deliver the truth with compassion and empathy. It’s not about winning or losing. You accept disagreement as a natural part of human interaction.

You’re a risk taker. Vulnerability is a risk you have to take if you want to create and experience deeper connection and success in your life. Putting your real self out into the world can feel daunting. However, I see a greater risk in hiding your true self by contorting, twisting and pretending to be something else instead of expressing your ideas or sharing your value in the world.

You stay in your power. When faced with a vulnerable situation, you get grounded, clear and deliberate with your intention holding authenticity as your goal. You stand in your power rather than playing small and shrinking to protect yourself.  Vulnerability is infectious! You lead the way by role modeling your bravery to others… Pass it on!

Being vulnerable takes a great deal of courage and it’s not an easy choice.

When you choose to be your REAL self, your world changes. People start to connect with you at a deeper level; they perceive you as honest, open and authentic. You stop contorting yourself to ‘fit in’ and ‘people please’ – You become the leader in your life.

Give yourself permission to be vulnerable…

 

4 Responses to “Why being vulnerable makes you a better leader!”

  1. Lynn Korst says:

    Elaine,
    Great article! You would love Brene Browns new book Daring Greatly, all about vulnerability.

  2. elaine says:

    Thanks Lynn! I’m off to buy the book this weekend – Thanks for the heads up!

  3. Al C says:

    Fantastic article (as always) thank you for sharing your insights Elaine.

  4. elaine says:

    Hi Al – You’re welcome and thanks for sharing this

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