Why be a Vulnerable Leader?

Vulnerability (n):capable of being physically or emotionally wounded.

Our path to grow and connect to those around us can be difficult when we are not genuine in experiencing our lives in a way that embraces opening ourselves to others. It limits our ability to thrive and bond when we shield off those connections. We were born to reach out and to grow by experiencing that connectedness. This connectedness is realized through trust. Trust is brought about by our willingness to be transparent, to be open – to be vulnerable. 

In her TED Talk, Brene’ Brown shares that, ironically, our fears of shame and rejection often lead us away from opening ourselves up to others in ways that would bring about the acceptance we actually seek. The idea that human connectedness is a fundamental need that requires not only faith but also courage is one that can be powerful in creating well-being and powerful relationships – both personal and professional.

For some leaders, this idea is unsettling. I am one of those leaders. This message forced me to confront the idea of the dichotomy I experience as a leader. There is the external presence I present whose purpose is providing a reassuring connection to others by projecting stability in times of adversity. There is also the internal me. This “inner me” experiences the highs, lows, and worries in the same way as those I lead. This is the vulnerable me, the protected me. I understand how this dichotomy, unmanaged, isolates meaningful connection and obstructs the path to trust with those around me – many of them imprisoned and confronted by the same duality. Ironically, fearlessness is required. There has to be a fearless understanding that the key to powerful relationships is found through our courage to be vulnerable and that it paves the path for trust. That trust, in turn,  unites us in our shared pursuits as a team. 

Vulnerability has the power to bring about an honest and single-hearted approach that can lead to establishing those precious connections…and in our connectedness, we can achieve great things together.

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