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Vulnerability: The Untapped Leadership Superpower

Last week I released a blog sharing a personal journey. It got the most coverage, reactions and comments of any post I’ve made. People reached out by text, calls and messages thanking me for sharing my vulnerabilities. I was thanked for putting it all out there, sharing the deepest parts of me, experiences and feelings.

That one word “vulnerable” came up more than any other sentiment. Vulnerability means to be in a state of being exposed with the potential for harm or attacked either physically or emotionally. Why would anyone want to be in this state?

I spent the week wondering why this hit home for so many. As I reflected on the messages and conversations, I couldn’t help but think of leaders.

Why do leaders shy away from being vulnerable? Is it fear? Traditional norms of strength and infallibility? A male dominated work culture? Avoiding judgement? Lack of psychological safety?

Whatever the why, let’s change this. I’ve realized the benefits of vulnerability in my personal life as well as my business. Here are my whys:

Relatability: sharing your vulnerabilities makes you more relatable to others. When they hear your experiences, failures and learnings, you help them grow and share. It’s great leadership!

Bringing people together: In my coaching circles, as each member shared their vulnerable stories, it helped them bond in friendship, support and alliance.

Psychological safety: When you feel safe enough to share the deepest parts of you, you create that safety around you for others to explore and take risks without retribution.

Breaking taboos: It’s often taboo in corporate environments to be vulnerable. Let’s break that down and lead through authenticity, transparency and real sharing.

Elevating emotional intelligence: When communities and businesses create an environment where being vulnerable is accepted and celebrated, emotional intelligence increases and becomes a driving force.

Bringing our boldness: To be vulnerable, we must be bold. Finding and living in your boldness will give you self-confidence, reduce shame and lead to more authentic and purposeful living.

Sounds good on paper, but how do we work through fear? The fear is real, as you are sharing your deepest experiences, opening yourself up, breaking with cultural norms, and exposing yourself in new ways. While those fears can be daunting, remember your whys. There can be tremendous value in being your whole authentic self.

I use focused self-coaching to help me remember my why. Ask yourselves the following questions and do some journaling with your thoughts:

  • How can I feel deeper and understand my vulnerabilities? What are they teaching me?

  • What’s holding me back?

  • What’s the worst that could happen?

  • What if this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing?

  • How do I want to show up in this situation?

  • What if my experiences can help others?

Take your time in journaling or thinking about how you answer these. The more you do it, the more comfortable you will become thinking deeply about your why. Remember it’s a muscle that needs to be developed like any other skill.

Lastly, be kind to yourself, and go slowly. You don’t need to start with your deepest secrets- start small. Be gentle and move at your own pace. I promise you, the rewards of living vulnerably will make it worth the effort.

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