Please Join Us!
When: Friday, July 7 @ 1pm EST (5pm GMT/10:30pm IST)
Topic: Daring to Be Vulnerable
About This Week’s Chat
Making a Connection
As a lecturer and facilitator, I believe that it’s important to make a connection with my students. And sometimes, daring to be vulnerable is the best way to make that connection.
A number of years ago I was giving training at a company that I was very eager to have on my client list. When they initially asked if I would do leadership training for their senior managers, I was elated.
Over the next few weeks, I spent a lot of time working through my existing training sessions about leadership (that I’d already presented successfully to many companies). I looked for new and interesting information, added the latest research statistics, and made sure that everything was correct and precise.
Normally I’m very relaxed when I lecture or give training. But, during the first three days of this leadership course, I repeatedly became aware of my body being very tense. I ascribed it to the fact that I so badly wanted this client, and that I wanted the training to be perfect.
By the third afternoon, on my way home, I realized that I was struggling to connect with the delegates like never before. They seemed guarded, which rarely happens in my classes. While I sat stuck in traffic, the thought hit me that I was presenting this training in such a precise and clinical way that I had sacrificed the human touch. I wasn’t showing any of my “human being-ness” the way I usually do.
On the fourth morning, I started off by asking everybody to sit in a circle. I joined them, and said, “Let me tell you about some of the things I’ve done as a leader. There was a stage in my life where very few people would have wanted to work for me. I was a perfectionist, and I couldn’t bear that people made mistakes. Instead of giving people a vision, I gave them rules. Rather than inspiring them, I judged them. Instead of listening to them, I had to sound like the cleverest person in the company. In short, I suffered from my own ego and I sucked as a leader. Does anybody relate to this?”
After a shocked silence, the delegates started sharing which part of the story resonated with them. They admitted to also going through bad phases, and added their own struggles and challenges to the list. One brave soul said he was struggling with so many things that he didn’t know what he was doing there!
Vulnerability Creates Change
Me being open and vulnerable set the tone, and made it safe for the delegates to be open and vulnerable, too. I then took the opportunity to say to them, “Now we know that nobody in here is perfect. Let’s take each challenge and see how we can apply the leadership principles we spoke about during the previous days to remedy these challenges.”
If you had looked at the situation from the outside, you would have sworn that a miracle took place. The guardedness was gone; there was interaction and there was connection. The tempo and intensity of learning increased dramatically. Through sharing our vulnerabilities and experience, we were able to create a pool of knowledge and a space where everybody was able to learn and share.
Vulnerability can create change, openness and connection, and increase experiential learning. It sounds truthful and feels courageous. Your untainted honesty, and your willingness to drop your ego-protecting armor, create a safe space around you.
Daring to Be Vulnerable
We’re going to talk about “Daring to Be Vulnerable” during our #MTtalk Twitter chat this week.
In last week’s poll, we wanted to know why you think vulnerability by means of self-disclosure is a good leadership quality. Almost half of the participants felt that it helps leaders to connect with people. Another 30 percent agreed that it helps leaders establish trust. For all the options and responses, take a look at the poll here.
We’d love you to participate in the chat. The following questions may spark some thoughts in preparation for it:
- When is it appropriate to disclose personal information in the workplace?
- How do you decide who to share information with?
- How do you decide how much information to share?
- What do you do when you think that you have said too much, and therefore feel exposed and vulnerable?
- What do you avoid doing or saying at work, because it makes you feel vulnerable?
- How would daring to be vulnerable help you, or help other people?
- Describe a time when you wish you’d been more open at work, and why.
To help you to prepare for the chat, we’ve compiled a list of resources for you to browse.
- The Talisman of Leadership: Authenticity
- The Power of Trust: A Steel Cable
- Transformational Leadership
- Mindful Listening
- How to Apologize
At Mind Tools, we like hearing from people all over the globe. We’d like to learn from you, too, and we invite you to participate in the #MTtalk chat this Friday at 1pm EST (5pm GMT/10:30pm IST). Remember, we feature great participant responses right here on our blog every week!
How to Join
Follow us on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action this Friday! We’ll be tweeting out 10 questions during our hour-long chat. To participate in the chat, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on “All Tweets” and you’ll be able to follow the live chat feed. You can join the chat by using the hashtag #MTtalk in your responses.