Friday, December 16, 2011

Leadership and Vulnerablity

In my guest post on Michael Hyatt's blog today, I suggested that, like those who train for acting, public speakers must give thought not simply to how to craft a better delivery, but how to more fully offer themselves as they communicate their message.  The challenge to fully offer ourselves, warts and all, is one that all leaders face, not just public speakers.

Offering our imperfect selves is difficult.  And aren't leaders supposed to put their best foot forward?

It is tempting to hide behind preparation, expertise, education and experience.  But those who hide cannot lead well.  Hiding hinders our ability to lead effectively.

In a radio interview, Dan Allender, psychologist and author of "Leading with a Limp" made the following statement about leadership:

"I think if you were to peer into many leader's hearts, they remember believing.  They remember their first love.  But in one sense, the posturing has so eroded something of their own capacity to be real and to be alive...that they've become somewhat robotic and certainly distant.  And that kind of leadership never is a person that you would want to deeply follow."

We must move away from posturing as leaders and risk simply being ourselves.  We must be vulnerable.  Instead of always putting our best foot forward, we must put our flawed foot forward.  This is an incredibly difficult and terrifying thought for many of us who lead.  Yet it is our vulnerability that puts us on level ground with those who follow us.  We become more real in their eyes, more authentic.  Admitting failures, confessing our confusion over the way forward, and naming the conflicts we face in ourselves and with others reminds those who follow us that we are stumbling forward together.  It can lead to the kind of teamwork that no amount of formal leadership training can produce.

People are drawn to genuine disclosure, not exhaustive disclosure.  Exhaustive disclosure of every piece of junk isn't the point, nor is it necessary.  No need to air all of one's dirty laundry to everyone (But you ought to air it to someone...a topic for another post).

So take a risk and lead from your heart.

We need you.

We do not need your degrees or your years of experience.

We do not need your best impression of a good leader.

We need your best expression of an honest leader.

Someone like that is worth following wholeheartedly.

QUESTIONS:  Do you think vulnerability is an important quality in leadership?  Is it overlooked?  Have you ever seen it in a leader you admire?  

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