The Power of Vulnerability in Leadership

Up to now have always identified ourselves strongly as women of power. With emancipation it was important to us to demonstrate to ourselves and others that we can do things ourselves, that we can achieve on our own merits, that we can manage all of life with great success.

We are leaders in our personal and professional life. We hold positions of responsibility at work leading teams and projects. At home we lead our partners or kids (and or pets), taking on an equal or greater share managing the household. We are strong, independent women! We have been happy so far, things have been going great.

Up to now…… In the quiet times of our lives (which there are few) we get this feeling that this cannot possibly all there is. That somehow along the way of self realisation we have lost a part of us, a part that is crucial to our happiness, a part we cannot define yet we yearn for deep down inside. We want to show more of ourselves, we are tired of being strong all the time, that perhaps it is starting to feel somehow wrong to be this way.

What is going on we ask ourselves? Your intuition is right. You are missing something or more importantly somewhere along the way you have misplaced an important part of yourself – that part is called vulnerability.

What is vulnerability? Vulnerability is not as many of you may think is being weak or defenceless. In fact, I came across the great Brené Brown, the worlds leading researcher in vulnerability and her talk about vulnerability. She explains vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure” (Daring Greatly, (2012) p.34). She goes on to define courage – from the Latin word cor, meaning heart – as being essential to vulnerability. It cannot exist separately from it. When embracing vulnerability, you embrace the courage to be imperfect, to have compassion and to be kind to yourself first and in turn to treat others the same way.

You may be aware of the saying that how we relate to the world is a mirror of how we relate to ourselves and the quality of our relationships is a mirror to the relationship we have with ourselves. Are you treated kindly? Do you experience deep and loving connections with people of significance in your life? At work do you really relate to your co-workers and employees or are they just there to do their job?

Vulnerability is the courage to say yes and work out how later. It is courage that turns up when there is no certainty of success. It is trusting yourself, accepting your imperfections warts and all and in turn trust and accept others.

How does vulnerability relate to leadership? In personal leadership it means to embrace your imperfections, to have courage and share your feelings with others – this means being authentic.  Allowing yourself to open up and rely on your new found courage brings about a kind of strength that emerges from deep inside of you, one that rests on personal confidence and certainty.

The result is genuine happiness, a sense of gratitude and appreciation of life and others. In professional leadership vulnerability makes you an outstanding leader. One that inspires courage in others and continuously expands their employees comfort zone.  You truly appreciate other peoples potential and connect with them in an authentic way. As a leader of your career you embrace change and seek out challenges, trusting that courage turns up when you need it.

You are not afraid of making mistakes, more than that your mistakes are feedback that you are growing and trusting your vulnerability more and more. In the face of action, courage turns up. Vulnerability in professional leadership leads to finding a new kind of appreciation for your career, yourself as a leader and greater contribution to the success of your company.

If you want to know more about how to explore your vulnerability, educate yourself or seek out the help of a professional leadership coach who can help you discover your own vulnerability. As a start here is the link to René’s talk.

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