Aside Posted on Updated on
One of the most ignored yet most powerful leadership traits is vulnerability. It is also the rarest of all the leadership traits that we all get to see. However, vulnerability when practiced with sincerity magnifies the power and influence of a leader beyond the imagination of logical mind. So, what is vulnerability? Vulnerability brings a perception of humility in a leader. Vulnerable leaders are seen as approachable and more importantly they do not block themselves from the outside world but because of their vulnerability people are always expressing their views and ideas to such leaders, whether good or bad, positive or negative. This ensures that these leaders are in a state of awareness in coming to decisions as every time they are taking everyone’s views in mind. And this awareness allows them to keep their minds open and also ensures that they keep their ears to the ground.
“Vulnerability is the core of shame and struggle, and fear, and our struggle for worthiness. But it appears that it is also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging and love.”
~ Dr. Brene Brown
Does this mean that lack of vulnerability will guarantee that you cannot become a powerful leader? Well of course no. There are few examples of leaders who were not vulnerable but they had their impact on this world. One good example is Steve Jobs. Hardly vulnerable but was able to produce an impact that very few can match in ages to come. Most of the dictators will also come under this category. They are scared to be seen as vulnerable. However, these leaders have never been loved by people. They cannot become people leaders. There is always a huge risk involved with never being vulnerable both to the people around you and to you.
Chances are that sometimes we can be wrong and if we are not listening to those around us, until we are perfect human beings, then we have stopped our own growth. Leadership is all about making the life of people good. These people could be the customers and clients we work for and also the people who we have at hand in our teams who work with us to deliver great product or service. Ideally to expect someone to do quality work without keeping them positively motivated is almost impossible.
What can I do to become a vulnerable leader?
First what-is-in-it for-you. This is what you can expect. Love and respect from people you work with or deal with. Every human being loves humility and when you show that you can be wrong and you accept it without bringing your big fat ego in between then you are in the right course.
Now, to answer the how-to-do-it part, it is very simple – every time you make a mistake, accept it and take the blame. If at times people are angry and throwing their emotions at you, you should discipline yourself to accept it humbly bowing down. If you are confused about what to do, instead of showing false confidence confide with your team and take their suggestions. It will mean that you will have to throw the mask on your face and be brave to show to the world the real you. You will be loved and respected for the character that you have and not for the slippery reputation that you showcase. This will also help you build strong and magical bond of trust and respect with people around you. You will make everyone so comfortable to that they will never like to leave your company. In the long run, your influence will reach beyond your imagination.
Is it easy to do exercise?
Initially it may not be, especially if you are not already used to acting vulnerable. However, the fruits of this are too sweet not to try being one. It will require first creating breakthrough by being vulnerable where it is relatively easier to be so and then slowly moving up, raising the stakes and making it a discipline to do so.
It will also help build a culture of honesty and trust within your teams.
Hope you like this
I would love you to suggest some examples of leaders (it could also be leaders at home – your mother, father, brother or managers or anyone you have known, heard or read about) who are vulnerable and you or people just love them.
Eager to hear from you.
Know you want to be best in the business. Know you care for your employees and want to make sure that they grow and your business grows as well. But to tell you the fact as it is, your employees see you only interested in your business and not in them.
Have you thought what does it take to keep your most important resource, your employees, motivated enough to come to work and give their best day-in day-out. It is a very old idea but still works the best. You know your employees are crying WIIIFM i.e. what-is-in-it-for-me every time you send them for training.
However, in this pressure to keep our customers and clients happy we ignore our closest associates our human resource who work hard to get us business.
The next mistake is that we arrange for some training as a solution. You must be wondering what’s wrong with training. Isn’t this what you want to do to encourage your employees grow. Well, there is nothing wrong but do your trainers sell your trainings to your employees before they train them, do your trainers first tell your employees WHAT IS IN IT FOR THEM in the trainings that we arrange for them.
Most trainings ignore this. There are two steps to training
1. Sell the training to trainees
2. Train once you have ensured that they have bought the idea
Most of the time we skip the first part and hence the entire process fails. Would you like to entertain a salesman if he knocks at the door and pushes something down your throat every time, you won’t; however, if there is a law ensuring that you have to open the door and listen to the salesman all the time, you will also do the same things that your employees are doing. Employees generally do not see that the trainings that are conducted are for their good, instead they feel it is another way of making sure that you can extract more out of them or sometimes it is just a formality that an organization has to run to tick one agenda off their yearly or quarterly calendar.
This is where most of the trainings fail.
Communication is one of the key areas for any organization. Be it the case of how team members communicate amongst themselves, team leader conveying the message of increased target or leaders announcing major change within the organization which might affect a number of employees. However, as your profile becomes bigger, more important and your formal influence increases within the organization, slowly it becomes a vital element for a long-term success.
However, despite the importance of communication and it’s direct impact on the performance of organization, it quite common to see the lack of communication happening in many organizations. Many a times organizations and leaders choose to ignore this vital component. This happens because of many reasons e.g. lack of awareness of the importance of communication, work pressure, working style of people and lots of other reasons. Although ignored, the undercurrent that this sets in can have far-reaching negative impact.
Lack of communication directly impacts the relationships among workers. As we understand, an organization is a team working together for a purpose. We cannot expect this team to function in a cohesive manner now when there is little or no communication happening. Let’s check out the direct implications of lack of communication:
• People stop complaining (and it is quite normal, in fact healthy, for team members to complain) even if they are not happy with certain things and it keeps growing within them.
• People do not express their expectations because of lack of communication.
• Those who are able to see the negativity spreading also choose not to discuss this.
• Invisible shield starts growing around people and they become indifferent to the demands of organization and their job. The bigger these shields grow, more collision will happen when they are walking around or passing by each other.
One important thing about relationship is that it can either be good or bad. Very occasionally, and that too with lots of effort, you see people managing relationships which is not actually healthy as the focus and energy is on avoiding conflict. True in marriages gone wrong, family relationships gone wrong, relationship between bosses and their team member gone wrong.
In this case, by ignoring to encourage proper communication flow, the organization has dug its own grave, the direct impact of relationship going sour is that work will be impacted and sometimes it can be in a big way.
Best things an organization can do in such cases are:
• First identify that it could be because of lack of proper communication. Most of the times we never realize that simple things like communication or lack of it can create a big mess.
Like John Gardner rightly said :
“Most ailing organizations have developed a functional blindness to their own defects. They are not suffering because they cannot resolve their problems, but because they cannot see their problems.”
• Second, slowly open channels of communication which will drain out all the negativity. So, this would mean that to put something positive, we will first need to clean the stinking negativity which has been created over a long period of time.
• Third, slowly use proper communication tools and channels to dissolve the negativity and replace this with positive feelings of trust and openness.
• Four, constantly work on building a culture of openness, tolerance and trust and keep reinforcing these ideas till it becomes an integral part of your organizational culture.
A question all leaders need to ask very frequently is this – do people working in my team come to work for the love of work or to do a job for which they are paid. Leaders need to constantly structure their system, remuneration, training & development activities, recruitment etc. in such a manner that their teams do not come to office for job but to fulfill their passion and sharpen their skills.
One of the greatest art a leader needs to learn is how to put his team in auto-pilot mode and step aside and watch & guide its growth from a distance.