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Vulnerability 101

At StartHuman we are passionate about practicing vulnerability as leaders in the workplace. We probably don’t have to tell you (we saw the wince on your face) that many times the “V” word is met with skepticism, and sometimes a full blown melt down from leaders and employees who are afraid of looking weak to stakeholders. It’s true that practicing vulnerability in the workplace is decidedly counter culture, so we decided to put together a series of posts to show you what vulnerability has to do with leadership at work, and to ease you on to the V Train.

Let’s start with the definition of vulnerability as laid out by Brene Brown:
Vulnerability is uncertainty, emotional exposure, and risk.

Not so bad, right? We grow up thinking vulnerability is synonymous with weakness, when really is a commonly experienced human feeling. None of us are exempt from feeling vulnerable. It’s just how we handle the vulnerability that allows us to thrive in innovation, creativity and leadership of other humans.

Let’s think about all the ways vulnerability can be used in a leadership capacity:

  1. Admitting mistakes
  2. Giving feedback
  3. Disagreeing with someone
  4. Saying “I don’t know”
  5. Asking for help
  6. Creating a new process
  7. Sharing an idea
  8. Asking for a raise
  9. Turning down a promotion
  10. Asking for feedback

All of these activities involve some degree of uncertainty, emotional exposure, and risk. Of course, there are ways to avoid vulnerability (people pleasing, avoidance, cynicism,etc.), but at what cost?

We’ll stop there and leave some time for digestion. Look for our next post diving even deeper into vulnerability and how it is the birthplace for courage and authenticity: two of the most highly effective and sought after leadership characteristics.

Amber Barnes
Amber Barnes
Amber is a leadership development professional with a heart for helping leaders maximize human performance in the workplace (and beyond.) With over a decade of experience coaching, training and advising leaders, she writes to helps leaders become more effective. Amber highlights common pitfalls, effective (and human) leadership practices as well as "must-knows" for leaders.