“A leader, first and foremost, is human. Only when we have the strength to show our vulnerability can we truly lead.” – Simon Sinek
Vulnerability in Action
When I awoke, the first thing I was conscious of was how much I hated my body. I had to get up, go to the loo, and then weigh myself immediately. What happened in those few minutes would keep me buoyant for the rest of the day or slam me into the ground face first. If I lost a few hundred grams, I’d be OK. If my weight was the same or, heaven forbid, slightly increased, I’d hate my body so much that I just wanted to stop breathing. Literally.
A few months ago, I started with a new fitness regime with the goal of increasing lean muscle and shedding fat. I saw it sort of as a “reward” to myself for maintaining a fairly stable weight for a number of years now, after a long struggle with my weight and eating disorders.
Before starting with the body transformation program, it was in the back of my mind to blog about it as I went along. But, when I sat down to write my first post after my initial assessment and starting with the actual program, something didn’t feel right. I read and re-read the post. Then I realized what was wrong: it didn’t feel authentic, because I didn’t start at the beginning.
My mind rebelled. I didn’t WANT to start at the beginning because, then, I’d have to share my whole struggle. Much of it was unknown to anyone but myself, and I felt that telling the whole story would make me very vulnerable.
I sat in front of the computer for ages without writing a word. I turned the issue over in my mind and decided that, if I really wanted my story to be a help and inspiration to others, I’d have to begin at the beginning. After that my fingers seemed to start typing of their own accord.
I received emails and messages from all over the world. People thanked me for my courage to share my struggle. They asked for help. They thanked me for giving them hope.
Some of my darkest moments in life that left me vulnerable to being judged and ridiculed had given birth to a movement of help and hope.
Daring to Be Vulnerable
During our Twitter chat last Friday, we spoke about vulnerability. Here are the questions we asked and some of the responses from participants.
Q1 What does being vulnerable in the workplace mean to you?
@haeheti4 I take this vulnerability as an exposure to meaningful risk in any particular environment.
@JKatzaman Vulnerable in the workplace is not being haughty and all-knowing but instead open to advice and ideas.
Q2 What are we fearing when we feel vulnerable at work?
@amypen64 That people will use our weaknesses against us. That we might not know what we are doing.
@BernieMixon Not being good enough.
Q3 When is it appropriate to disclose something personal at work?
@HirePowerHR From my perspective, only if it is business related or it is one with whom you have a deep and trusting relationship.
@Yolande_MT I use self-disclosure to help people relate to me. It creates a safe space around me for other people to just BE.
Q4 How do you decide who to share information with?
A theme that emerged from the responses to this question was that trust played a big role in deciding who to share information with.
@PG_pmp When co-workers build trust in each other; when they think a person will listen with empathy and give guidance when required.
@Midgie_MT Trust is a big factor when I’m deciding who to share with. Also, what is the purpose/reason for sharing and what do I want to achieve?
Q5 How do you decide what information to share and when to share it?
@LBSnowden Share info with leadership and/or colleagues when the quality of your work is being impacted. Let them know when you need help.
@GThakore Timing and content is important. Share it when your mind and heart are on the same page.
Q6 What does daring to be vulnerable at work look/feel like from a leadership perspective?
@jeremypmurphy It’s inspiring to see how great leaders wrestle with challenges and obstacles and overcome them. Fires up the team.
@SayItForwardNow It looks like authenticity!
Q7 How do you hide/protect your vulnerability, and why?
@BrainBlenderTec Most cover with masks; they are overcompensating for a fault instead of owning it and trying to improve.
@harrisonia In addition to being introverted, I almost never disclose too much too soon. I need to feel comfortable with the environment first.
Q8 How can daring to be vulnerable help a leader and help others/their people?
Showing vulnerability as a leader is a hot topic of discussion at the moment and, from these responses, we can see why the two go hand in hand.
@maat333 Showing vulnerability is not a sign of weakness, but of awareness and honesty (trust/maturity) and it can build stronger relationships.
@SaifuRizvi Being vulnerable is human and a leader is human too. Your vulnerability teaches you how to avoid hurting emotion of others.
@GiveWP A leader who isn’t perfect gives the people around him/her “permission” not to be perfect either.
Q9 How does maturity play a role in daring to be vulnerable?
@MicheleDD_MT Vulnerability requires admitting mistakes and taking accountability for them. Doing so requires maturity and integrity.
@haeheti4 Daring to be vulnerable is a proof that a leader is capable of handling whatever situation without fear.
Q10 From now on, when and why will you dare to be vulnerable?
@wordsallowed Mirror a client’s vulnerability… then show strength and determination.
@E_Toohig As a speaker it is important to show vulnerability when speaking. It helps to build engagement, trust and credibility.
@Yolande_MT I will dare to be more vulnerable in any situation where it can inspire, give hope or build bridges.
Next time, on #MTtalk…
Taking your vulnerability and using it to make you resilient and stronger often employs the skill of being able to solve problems creatively. In our Twitter poll this week, we’d like to know more about when your creative problem solving goes into top gear. Please cast your vote in our Twitter poll here.
In our next #MTtalk on Friday July 21, our topic is “How to Problem Solve Creatively,” as suggested by one of our regular participants, Vijay Mahajan @thevijaymahajan. To share your thoughts and ideas, please join us at 1pm EST/5pm GMT/10:30pm IST.
To participate in our chat about solving problems creatively, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on “All Tweets” and you’ll be able to follow the live chat feed. To join the conversation, simply include #MTtalk in your tweet and it will show up in the chat feed.
In the meantime, here are some resources that will help you to learn more about daring to be vulnerable:
- The Talisman of Leadership: Authenticity
- The Power of Trust: A Steel Cable
- 8 Ways to Improve Self-Regulation
- Establishing Credibility
- Gaining the Trust of Your New Team
- Developing Self-Awareness
- Making Amends
- Asking for Help
- Transformational Leadership