Do you believe that vulnerability in leadership is a sign of weakness?
You're not alone.
As a new leader, I believed that I needed to be strong, both in words and in tone to get the respect I deserved. After all, I was the boss, right?
The problem was, I couldn't find the right balance. Too soft, too strong, too weak...
I was happily leading my team along, and I turned around to wonder where they went. Why weren't they following me?
I was a middle manager in a hospital and kept running into resistance. Even simple changes were hard.
A few years into my leadership journey, I started to question my ability to lead.
One morning I told one of my nurses to do something different. They told me point blank, "No."
I was so frustrated, I cried.
I marched into my boss' office and told him the staff could have the department back. They clearly thought they could do the job better than I could. So have at it!
It was definitely not worth the struggle and fight.
I stormed out of his office and promptly started looking for another job.
I left that job within the next couple of months.
Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.
The problem was I took another management job and took myself with me.
The same thing happened.
I had a staff member call me out ... again.
Then I took a hard look. All the gossip, blaming and fear. I realized I was the one who did that. I was the common denominator.
I was not proud of it at all.
I woke up. I saw clearly what kind of culture I had created on my team.
This time I knew I needed to change.
I asked for help, and I started to model the behavior of leaders that I respected.
Leaders whose staff loved them. Leaders who weren't afraid to lean in during the hard times.
You see, I grew up believing that vulnerability was a weakness. I lived in an environment where I had to protect myself at all times.
Physically and mentally.
To be vulnerable meant opening myself up to pain, criticism, and belittlement.
As a result:
- I put on my armor.
- I stuffed my emotions down.
- I shut down.
I never saw the collateral damage to my health, relationships and wealth.
Now, I know that I am not alone. You might be doing this right now and not even know it.
In order to be an empathetic influential leader, you must be courageous enough to embrace vulnerability. From courage comes vulnerability.
You must lead with love.
Is your drive to be an impactful leader getting in the way of your success?
Wouldn't you love to have more joy at work?
Are you frustrated by the lack of engagement on your team?
I'm not talking about a "putting it all out there, raw emotion", kind of thing. I'm talking about having the courage to admit that you don't know everything.
- Removing the armor despite your fears.
- Getting real with your emotions.
- Leaning in when you feel like running out.
Choose to be genuine.
Choose to be seen.
Choose to be human.
As International best-selling author Rod Hairston says in his book Are You Up for The Challenge? vulnerability is your superpower.
In order to have an authentic connection, you must open yourself up to other people. Even when it's hard and you're afraid.
I can tell you from experience that when you face your fears and lean in, you find your own power.
You become less focused on protecting yourself so you can focus on adding value to the lives of others.
This is where true fulfillment lies.
To paraphrase Brené Brown in her book Dare to Lead:
As a leader, you must sit in the discomfort. Have the tough conversations, all while coming from a place of love.
Otherwise, you will spend all of your time battling mutinies over and over and over again.
I've decided that the armor is too heavy to carry and I will never lead from or with fear.
I have chosen to be courageous and vulnerable.
Vulnerability breeds true strength and power.
What Will You Choose?Ask yourself:
- How am I fulfilled as a leader?
- What am I afraid of as a leader?
- Who do I need to become to be a good leader?
Face your fear.
Lead with love.
The irony is that when you are curious and vulnerable, you become a better leader because you are:
- More connected to the heart of your work.
- More connected to purpose.
- More connected to your people.
- You are more resilient.
Is it easy? NO. It's much easier to numb the pain and fear and disconnect. I can tell you from personal experience.
I can also tell you from personal experience that the times that I have opened myself to connection and vulnerability have been the most meaningful and rewarding experiences in my career.
Are you ready to make a change?
Own your vulnerability.
Lead with love.
Step into your Superpower as a leader.