We keep so much to ourselves, close to our chest. If they know that about me, they'll think I'm weak. If they think I'm weak they won't take me seriously, I’ll be overlooked for promotion, they won't trust me. Vulnerably sharing your emotions, your reality - and sharing it in the corporate world! Some still think that isn't leadership.
It’s vulnerable to ask for help, share a personal experience, admit you don't have all the answers, that you messed up, that you are not a robot and things impact you, that you might need time off, that stress is impacting your sleep....that you're not enjoying life.
And it's these vulnerable actions, ironically, that open up space for conversation, innovative ideas, build trust, grow successful relationships in teams and with clients, provide opportunities for others to lead and grow. That you can perform to a high level, grow successful businesses and be fiercely courageous.
The alternative is unsustainable.
As Brene Brown puts it you can’t selectively numb emotions…when we numb vulnerability, shame, fear…we numb joy, gratitude and happiness.
I have worked with people, myself included, who try hard to keep things to themselves, see this as strength, as leadership. It takes a lot of energy, we kid ourselves that it's a positive choice, that we're stronger and we can control and protect ourselves and situations. And that it has no impact on others.
It's not leadership. We risk appearing cold, controlled, that we have it all sorted and people avoid us and conversations aren't open and honest. That it's in the air in client meetings, people can't put their finger on it but it has impact. It leaves a huge place for assumptions to be made, for fear and uncertainty. It creates a place for burnout.
The word vulnerability sends shudders through a lot of people. What about leading with fierce courage. Courageously owning what's going on in our lives and that we want to make a change for ourselves, our family and careers.
My assumption is that it's harder for men, to risk being vulnerable, the stigma attached to talking about how you're struggling to do it all, that you're missing the joy in life, that you will let people down if you talk about how things really are. And yes, it is not easy for women either, there were more men than women in my house growing up, I'm the only woman in my house now and sometimes it feels easier to keep it in, to not ask for support, and that's not leadership. It takes more energy, and it's a choice to lead a weaker, much less fulfilled life.
I recommend Brene Browns Ted Talk on vulnerability, clients talk about the positive impact it’s had on them, because it's so spot on - 31 million views - and it has a message for men and women, plus she's very funny.
Start with the Ted Talk and then make a choice about how you want to lead….with fierce courage?