V is for Vulnerable – the book is on my desk, my client just cancelled a meeting towards which I was so looking forward, and the pink cover caught my eye. A gift of sorts, this cancellation… Time to think.
“Vulnerable is the only way we
can feel when we truly share the art
we’ve made. When we share it, when
we connect, we have shifted all the
power and made ourselves naked
in front of the person we’ve given the gift of our art to.
We have no excuse, no
manual to point to, no
procedure to protect
us. And that is
part of our gift” – S. Godin.
Vulnerability in leadership is strength. I have no doubt about it. The best leaders I have met have the courage to be vulnerable, and are comfortable with the fact that others might want to take advantage of it. They possess a degree of self-knowledge and self-awareness to recognize the boundaries and consequences of this transparency and humanity… and they face these consequences… bright-eyed.
I hear that self-confidence is connected with the willingness to show vulnerability. Funny dichotomy: self-confidence versus fear (anxiety, uncertainty – pick the intensity of the word that fits). It requires intelligence and judgment. It requires thought and a form of calculation. This means that as leaders we cannot just be vulnerable about anything and everything. But rather choose the people, situations and topics that will help progress the business or a situation in the desired direction. The emotional exposure that is related to the vulnerability may create an inner-conflict. In turn, this can lead to self-questioning, regret or even embarrassment – causing us to retreat, self-protect and avoid opening ourselves up to the emotional connection created by the risk we took in sharing our doubts, etc.
Some of the leaders I meet try to fake total control, and create a facade about their strength and fortitude, often assuming that others do not see through it. They have not yet got it, that leadership vulnerability is an asset. I look at them and see a shell that is ready to crack… the problem is that if it does crack… it will likely happen at the most inconvenient and regrettable moment.
If you are that leader – give yourself the gift of being defenseless at times. I guarantee, it is worth a try.