Have you noticed it too? LinkedIn is rife with posts barking at leaders, “Be vulnerable!”
Influencers and expensive consultants, who perhaps have never run a solvent business, continue the drum beat, day in, day out. Did they miss the memo?
Leadership vulnerability … big deal. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a time and a place for everything, including vulnerability.
And. No. I don’t think it’s okay for a leader to be a cold-hearted tyrant.
But on a scale of one to ten, emphasis on leadership vulnerability is one-hundred-fifty-seven. It’s a disproportionate response. So, look below at the definition of vulnerability. You decide. To be or not to be, vulnerable.
1. The Latin root of vulnerability., c. 1600, from Late Latin vulnerabilis "wounding," from Latin vulnerare "to wound, hurt, injure, maim," from vulnus (genitive vulneris) "wound." This definition implies weakness. Can you lead effectively from that emotional stance? Isn’t mental stamina an essential tenet of leadership? A wise leader in the trenches knows the when, where, what and why of circumstances that suggest being vulnerable. Although you must first have the willingness to know your weaknesses. Navigating vulnerabilities requires deep transformative work. The process is a practice, daily. It’s typically done in private with a psychiatrist, a trained counselor or experienced coach. A professional provides the tools. But the work is on you, to grow from one state to another for the better for you, the team, the business and the greater good. Here’s the wrinkle. Vulnerability is not supposed to be a permanent emotional state because weakness, doesn’t support the structure of life. The presumption is to transmute a false belief to become whole. Vulnerability may be a trend. But calm, mature, strength is and always will be a leader’s advantage.
2. The Latin root fort means “strong.” A “fort” is a “strong” building. It’s protection from danger. Being mentally strong is an asset, not a liability, in running a business. There are difficult decisions to make, hurdles to scale and problems to solve. Employees are making major financial decisions based upon a sacred trust. You know what in hell you’re doing. Being mentally strong to lead a company is the territory. During a crisis leadership can require a spine of steel. Each situation gauges strength and character. Captain Sullenberger’s story demonstrates exactly that. Landing US Airways Flight 1549, an Airbus A320 on the Hudson River off Manhattan after a bird strike was his test. All 155 people aboard survived. Headlines read, “Miracle on the Hudson.” Maybe providence did intervene. But Sully was the conduit for that miracle. Was his historic landing due to vulnerability? Or. Was it a result of steadfast cool-headed strength?
Barking aside, leaders you alone decide when and where vulnerability is appropriate. And you can also be an inspirational role model. No matter what, lead from peace and strength. Because you can’t even depend upon a muscle, when it’s weak.
Paula M. Parker (C) 2021 Originally published in the Metrowest Daily News a USA Today network