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The Power and Vulnerability of Leading Self

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“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.” Brené Brown
When we think of leadership, and leadership development, how often do we think about power and strength, rather than vulnerability? Power and strength are seen as assets and vulnerability as a liability. But is that really the case? Are we missing out on transformational and powerful leadership by not addressing, and exploring our vulnerability as leaders?

Traditionally leadership development focuses on how to lead others, but how can we do something for others, if we can’t even do it for ourselves first?

Transformational Leadership is more than ‘practice what you preach’ or modeling behaviors, it is about being a leader that others want to follow. We do this by embodying strength through our willingness to explore vulnerability as part of personal and leadership development.

Leading is a verb, an action. We are truly a leader when others choose to follow us, not because of a title, giving direction, or that they are direct reports. The first step in exploring our vulnerability as leaders is recognizing how much is out of our control. This includes the reality that team members choose whether or not to follow. In accepting that and embracing what we can control – Leading Self – we demonstrate the ‘courage to show up.’

It is easy to pick up lists of “do’s and don’ts” for managing others. It is much more powerful to consider one’s emotional intelligence, areas where one relies too heavily on strengths or avoids places of potential growth. This exploration is crucial to Leading Self, and where openness to vulnerability provides potential for strengthening our leadership capacities. In Leading Self, we are liberated and empowered.

Leading Self is also the first-step in the creation of an Accountability Culture in an organization. In such an environment, teams are also liberated and empowered. We can’t give them something we don’t have – we have to Lead Self before we can lead others.

As leaders, our courage to Lead Self by exploring, and growing from our vulnerability, is one of the greatest strengths we can offer our teams, our organizations, and ourselves.