Vulnerability as a Leadership Tool



Recently, I had the chance to see Brené Brown speak about her well-known book, "Daring Greatly." She talked about vulnerability, which she defines as allowing yourself to be "seen" when the outcome is uncertain.  

This really resonated with me, especially since I coach executives on how to show up with authenticity and strength. Putting yourself "out there" can inspire others to do the same.

It doesn't always mean you have to take a massive leap into uncertainty. For example, sometimes vulnerability is allowing others to give you input and acknowledging that you don't have all the answers. Instead, you are relying on your team to find the answers with you.

I was coaching a client who shared how much he admired the way his boss showed vulnerability. He had no idea that he was doing the same, and that he had mastered it. His team viewed him as a strong leader because of his willingness to put himself out there as someone who doesn't know it all.

What Stories Do You Tell Yourself?

Brown also talked about the stories we tell ourselves — especially when we are vulnerable and things don't go our way. She explained that the brain looks for a story to make sense of things when something difficult happens. In fact, the brain chemically rewards the story, even if it is incorrect.

So be mindful of what you are telling yourself. Use powerful questions — like "What else could be going on?" or "What does the evidence really tell me?" — to help you take a broader view. Ask others who will be candid with you for input and perspective. My son is 10 years old, and we already do this together. It's never too early or too late to start.