Is There A Place For Vulnerability In Leadership?

 

Over and over again, I have witnessed the power of vulnerability. A leader is up in front of the room and shows emotion, feels shame, and then discovers people are drawn to him or her instead. I have experienced the feeling myself, and I have been one of the people in the room, when the person in front was “real”.

After all, isn’t authenticity what showing vulnerability is all about? Simply allowing others to see and feel how we feel?

Giving them a chance to say, “me too” and empathize.

Brene’ Brown argues that one cannot have innovation and creativity without vulnerability. It’s the willingness to take risks that is at the root of our willingness to be vulnerable. Said another way, it is the courage to be wrong, and then wrong again, that leads to discovery, that leads to innovation.

And when a person who took the risks was wrong, and then wrong again, and then achieves success, shares their journey, the impact can be all the more powerful. Often when we look in the mirror, we see our vulnerabilities and when others look, they see our success.

We are all in transition, all on a journey through this thing called life. And we are each in a different place on the journey. When those of us in leadership roles, who may be perceived as “having it all”, share our real stories, we inspire others to join the journey.

 

Elisa K. Spain