The Vulnerable Leader
“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength” (Criss Jami)
Regardless of whether you are a newly selected leader or a senior leader with years of experience, perhaps one of the most crucial elements to your success as a leader will be the capability of being vulnerable, and knowing how to best express and communicate that vulnerability. Being a vulnerable leader is not equal to running around crying or being out of balance in general, although a tear spread every now and then for a reason only does demonstrate that you are humane.
From a scientific perspective, the act of crying is defined as a complex secretomotorphenomenon characterized by the shedding of tears from the lacrimal apparatus. In some cultures, crying is regarded selfish while others tend to show more acceptance towards this, as with expressing emotions in general.
However, vulnerability has not necessarily much to do with how well an individual can express his/her emotions, but rather in what manner the individual does express these, and how he/she deals with the emotions of other individuals/coworkers.
Vulnerability is not weakness. And that myth is profoundly dangerous. Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change. (Brene Brown)
It takes courage to express vulnerability. To be sensitive, but strong, at the same time.
Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength. (Saint Francis de Sales)
Every leader knows that he/she is a social being, dependent upon other individuals.
No man is an iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee…. (John Donne, original from year 1624)
Perhaps one of the greatest challenges for an empathetic leader is to learn how to set boundaries. As a leader you have to realize that you cannot help everyone. And, you have to help yourself first – if you are too vulnerable, you will end up helping others to the point that you feel completely drained of energy. Thus, to develop healthy vulnerability is the ability of setting boundaries, being centered, focused and balanced. Rather than doing everything for others, teach them how to help themselves. Rather than doing everything by yourself, learn how to involve people, and let others help you too.
Always be yourself, keep growing, and surround yourself with people and circumstances that support your growth. Spend time with different people and learn from them, but also remember to take some time out for yourself and engage in activities which allow you to stay connected with your intuition, and your true nature.
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
The difference between successful and really successful people is this: really successful people say no to almost everything. (Warren Buffet)
Think about individuals from your own circles, or celebrities, who have become truly successful through vulnerability. What can you possibly learn from these people?