Leadership: Exploring Workplace Vulnerability

Workplace Vulnerability

Here in the offices of Indra Process and Performance Consulting, we are continually extending and updating our Deep Leadership modules and supporting material. It’s a great and dynamic atmosphere as we sort out in our own minds the relevance of material and how we can deliver it in the most meaningful way. For us that means in a way that will change lives and accelerate business results.

Our programs cover both Personal Awareness and Business Awareness.  In the Personal Awareness components, we present and explore numerous traits that are or will become important for leaders intent on building great leadership ability that is applicable in a business world that is rapidly changing.

Recently we have been exploring the place of Leadership Vulnerability in the workplace. I thought I would present some of our thoughts for you to contemplate, and we would love to hear your thoughts on Vulnerability.

Leaders and Vulnerability

Vulnerability does not mean Powerlessness. Rather it is a powerful letting go of the need for others to control us and of our need to control others. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable begins a journey into strong self management, self confidence and well developed EQ.

So we can describe vulnerability as:

A letting go of forceful control of our situation, environment and of others, where that act of letting go produces personal and team performance breakthroughs.

Too Little Vulnerability

Lack of Vulnerability is a manifestation of fear. However, as our fear goes, confidence swoops in and then our comfort with lower certainty and vulnerability increases. That is not to say that an imbalance in vulnerability implies an inability to be effective at work. However balanced vulnerability makes it easier to be effective and improves personal performance.

It is possible to notice how a person approaches vulnerability — it is visible in their views on relationships with others at work and also with space, equipment, layouts, structures, hierarchies and so forth.

To be vulnerable we need trust, openness, uncompromising personal regard for others and flexibility. We need a degree of detachment from the judgements of others – an attitude of  “is there a grain of truth in it that I need to take notice of? Otherwise, what they think of me is not a concern except a notification of the strength of those relationships”.

Of course, in a work context we need to also make sure that we are heading in the right direction and achieving the right goals, building strong relationships and performing as leaders. So vulnerability is about being in balance with ourselves as humans – being comfortable with ourselves while always aiming for the best.

The Place for Workplace Vulnerability

People will ask, why should we bring vulnerability to the workplace? Because the alternatives are definitely not attractive.

Vulnerability is not about relaxing all self-control or self management. It is about being one’s true self and bringing (most of) that person to work. That is what we call Authentic Leadership.  It is bringing to work all the bits of you that are appropriate for a work context.

vulnerabilityAn unwillingness to be vulnerable places a high emphasis on personal performance safety and on minimising the risks of failure. Lack of Vulnerability is a forceful behaviour and can seem quite aggressive. Too much Vulnerability is a passive state or state of dependence or avoidance.

Balanced Vulnerability arises from a sense of self-worth and self safety that allows the person to fully experience the ebbs and flows of life. A person secure in themselves, with a Balanced Vulnerability, will trust others, be open to the opinions of others, be comfortable with change, will not consider obstacles as personal affronts and will have a high, unwavering regard for others.

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