The Benefits of Vulnerability

The Benefits of Vulnerability

The traditional definition of vulnerability is to be capable of, or susceptible to being wounded or hurt; being open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc. Most people in business understand these definitions and avoid vulnerability at all costs. Nowhere does this have more impact than in leadership circles. However, recent research in leadership has exposed many old ways of thinking as outdated, ineffective and damaging. With today’s emphasis on human relations, employee engagement and softer leadership skills, greater emphasis is being placed on interpersonal connection and consideration for people. Why? Because we’ve learned that employee satisfaction is paramount to organizational success. People simply shut down or leave if they don’t feel appreciated. The focus is transitioning from leaders to employees, although this has yet to make deep inroads into every organization. Autocratic leadership styles are yielding to democratic ones, where people are individualized and supported. Harsh, impersonal treatment is changing to accountable, considerate acts of empowerment. Cold, impenetrable leaders are learning humility and vulnerability. Definitions are changing with the times, and these behaviors are recognized for their benefits— for employees and leaders alike. The transformations are not easy. It’s difficult to overcome engrained paradigms. But if leaders can do this, the rewards are unlimited. Perhaps the most challenging soft skill many leaders still have trouble grasping is vulnerability. False Notions of Vulnerability The word vulnerability generates negative impressions for leaders because of past experiences of their own or people they know. Generally, vulnerable situations don’t go well, so leaders do what they can to avoid them. They see vulnerability as having their weaknesses or mistakes exposed, which leads to...
How to Avoid Leadership Drift

How to Avoid Leadership Drift

Business is an active, demanding endeavor. Only those who consistently apply themselves succeed. Organizations that thrive require leaders who actively dream, plan, engage, solve, pursue and network. It’s a lot of work, and there’s no finish line. But no one can keep up the pace indefinitely. Every leader experiences profound peaks and valleys, seasons of being on track or feeling lost. This can be repeated throughout the career of even the most seasoned executives. Organizations flourish when their leaders are in sync and on their game, and they flounder when their leaders drift off course. Many leaders find themselves off the path because they have gradually, unnoticeably, drifted there. Leadership drift is increasingly responsible for management failure and turnover. Many leaders face forceful influences and events that detrimentally change them, diminishing their organizational influence and reputation. Without discernment and internal awareness, external factors can cause damage that isn’t recognized until it is severe. Leaders benefit by applying a dual strategy: addressing the external factors to minimize their impact, and handling their responses to such factors, overcoming the personal issues that can lead to drifting. Most find the second to be much more difficult. All leaders experience drift at some point in their careers, some of it minor and recoverable, some significant and troubling. The greatest danger is failing to recognize it and taking steps to reverse it. Prolonging a short stretch of drift can render it irreversible, leading to career and team failures. Fortunately, leaders can take concrete steps to prevent irrevocable consequences. However, since drift is primarily an unconscious issue, leaders generally need a second set of eyes...