Vulnerabities Leadership And Vulnerability

Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.

Harry S Truman

A leader is a person who makes dynamism an intrinsic part of their personality. Be it battleground or board room meeting, they inspire their team mates to embrace risk and script their own success stories. A real leader always knows.

This is the narrative that has been handed down to us since ages. These are the type of behaviors which we try to acquire and adopt. We believe that by putting up a façade of certainty and courage, we can inspire our team mates.

True. But only in part, because the greatest stories of courage and bravery take birth not during moments of certainty and power but during moments when the leaders are at the most vulnerable phase of their lives.

Embracing The Uncertain

A young Mohandas Gandhi on being pushed out from a first class coach in South Africa embraced his anger and humiliation and decided to stay on in South Africa to fight for his rights. In doing so, he chose to be vulnerable. His inner wounds were open for the world to see. However this did not dissuade the great leader from pursuing his heart.

Most of us know Christopher Paul Gardner as the man who founded Gardner Rich and Co. And while we are vaguely familiar with his rags to riches story, what most of us do not know is Gardner spent the major part of his childhood in fear and uncertainty. The fact that he came from a poor household and his step father was an abusive man did not let an adolescent Christopher give up on his dreams. He clung to them with more tenacity than ever. As a single parent, he aspired to give his son a quality life that he had been deprived of.

The common thread running through both these stories is how these men let vulnerability shape their inner narratives.

“Vulnerability is the absolute heartbeat of innovation and creativity,” says Dr. Brené Brown, the author of four best sellers, The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring GreatlyRising Strong, and Braving the Wilderness.

During the course of her research, when  Dr Brown asked the participants to share their most  vulnerable  moments, the answers were wide and  diverse:

“Starting my business”

“The first date after my divorce”

“Taking my company public”

“Owning something I’ve done wrong at work”

“Cheering my son on because he really wants to make first chair in the orchestra and knowing that’s never going to happen.”

None of these, Brown realized, had anything to do with weakness. “Vulnerability is not weakness at all,” said Brown. It is, in fact, our most accurate measure of courage

Managing Your Vulnerabilities and Applying heart to Business

Early in the year 2017, Sundar Pichai the Google CEO won hearts by responding to a seven year old who wrote to him expressing her desire to join Google. Mr Pichai tweeted to the young girl that he was waiting for her to grow up and join the search giant. He also encouraged her to keep her passion for swimming alive.

With this little act of his, Pichai stressed the fact that business was not only about passion and bottom lines but also about empathy and connections.

Apple CEO, Tim Cook is another leader who believes in learning from his past mistakes rather than raging about them.

What does vulnerability or working with heart mean?

  • It means providing visibility to your strength and struggle and not hiding behind a façade of stoicism, intellectualizing, perfectionism and control. 
  • It also means nudging yourself to own your feelings and emotions in the face of risk and uncertainty.
  • A vulnerable leader is the one who is attuned to the emotional landscape of his colleagues and team members.
  • Vulnerability means leaning into discomfort and acknowledging the fear that comes with it.
  • A vulnerable leader chooses what is courageous over what is uncomfortable.

How do I know that I am vulnerable? How do I apply my heart to my business?

Reflect, ponder and ask yourself these questions:

  • How often do I encourage my team members to talk about their family, emotions and hobbies?
  • How often do I admit to my colleagues that I don’t have ready answers but that I am ready to listen?
  • Do I believe that a strong atmosphere of collaboration can make it easier for people to voice their opinions?
  • Do I believe that emotions play a major role in building a culture of positivism in the organization?
  • How often do I have open nonjudgmental conversations with my team mates?
  • How do I perceive marketing? As an outcome? Or as authentic story telling?
  • Like art, do I own the stories I create?

Finally remember a true leader is the one who makes courage, compassion and connection a part of their inner narrative. They do not strive for perfection; they believe in projecting their most authentic selves and leading the organization by openly acknowledging their.