It is a great journey to become secure in being authentic and vulnerable with people outside of our closest circles. It certainly has been for me, coming from a family who held very private everything personal.
I was introduced to Robert J. Anderson several years ago when I became certified in The Leadership Circle 360 assessment. In their book, Scaling Leadership: Building Organizational Capability and Capacity to Create Outcomes that Matter Most1, Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams write about self-awareness and authenticity. They believe that “… leading the organization’s ongoing evolution is a radially human requirement. It demands the vulnerability to learn “out loud” in deep relationship with those around us with an unusual degree of humility, self-awareness, courage, and integrity.”
Ringing true to me, my journey, and my work, they go on to say: “Leaders who scale leadership start with themselves by letting go and then learn out loud (publicly), and embrace the vulnerability of not knowing.” And, when leaders create the condition for scale… “We do so with fierce humility and vulnerability to be a learner on a journey with other learners.”
Great leadership requires “fierce humility and vulnerability.”
This is part 3 of the 3-part series on Being Vulnerable by Diana Gabriel, Certified Strengths Strategy Coach.
A leader who accounts for their actions well enough to take the heat turns vulnerability to an advantage. Click To Tweet
How inclined are you to be vulnerable as a leader?
“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” -̴ Brené Brown
Most leaders I work with find reassurance in knowing that vulnerability is a skill that takes time to develop and to be comfortable with it; after all, it is contrary to our human nature to protect and defend. When expressed with authenticity, vulnerability is a leadership strength. It draws more respect than if you attempt leadership without vulnerability.
Vulnerability can be expressed in disingenuous ways, which are equally damaging. Doing it for show draws attention to yourself, as David Williams asserts in The Best Leaders Are Vulnerable.2 This is a false humility designed to impress people with an overly-relational air, hoping to gain favor. Instead, be authentic. Sincerely owning up to mistakes is the most effective way to show vulnerability. Doing this in a spirit of humility is very effective. A leader who accounts for their actions well enough to take the heat turns vulnerability to an advantage.
Asking someone for forgiveness can feel like an extremely vulnerable act, but its benefits can be great. Showing the desire to restore a relationship, and taking the lead, is an honorable, trustworthy behavior that draws people to you engendering trust. Likewise, offering forgiveness to someone who’s hurt you does not mean you’re weak. It means you are above the discord and strong enough to initiate its repair.
When you resist expressing vulnerability you may be concerned that you will be seen as weak or taken advantage of. Taking a risk to exhibit genuine vulnerability will show you that this is not the case. It takes courage to head down this path, but it’s a journey that can enhance your leadership more than adopting any other trait.
When you identify and embrace your weak spots you are better grounded when revealing them. You can do this through the StrengthsFinder Assessment and obtaining your full profile or engaging in a Leadership Circle 360 assessment process, both of which I am certified in working with. The skills of a certified leadership coach can be of great support in becoming more comfortable with your own vulnerability. The more self-aware you are the greater the
What are your experiences with being vulnerable? How daring have you been with your vulnerability? How have you turned your vulnerabilities into strengths? I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me here and on LinkedIn.
1 Anderson, Robert J., and W. A. Adams. Scaling Leadership: Building Organizational Capability and Capacity to Create Outcomes That Matter Most. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2019.
2 Williams, David K. (2013, July 18). The Best Leaders are Vulnerable. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkwilliams/2013/07/18/the-best-leaders-are-vulnerable/#382222883c1d