To feel is to be vulnerable, says Brené Brown, Ph.D, LMSW who wrote the book, ‘Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead.’
Even if you haven’t thought about it, if you take a few moments to reflect, you would see that Brown’s just stating a fundamental truth. In other words, the only way you won’t feel vulnerable is to not feel anything at all, which, needless to say would be a terribly boring- not to say unhealthy- way to live.
Since vulnerability is part of being human, in an organizational context, the question arises: should leaders show their vulnerabilities to their team members?
Not showing vulnerability could trap you in a loop of self-doubt
Others see your vulnerability positively
A central idea in Brown’s book is the finding that while we view our own vulnerabilities negatively, we see the same in others in a surprisingly positive manner. This has to do with what’s called “construal level” in psychology.
Considering your own vulnerabilities, you think of it concretely. This relates to a low construal level. However, when you think of vulnerabilities in others, you do so rather abstractly. This means a high construal level.
Research suggests that higher construal levels lead to a positive view while lower levels lead to negative views about things.
In other words, other people see your vulnerabilities more positively than you do. There is even a psychological term for this called “Beautiful mess effect” which is, well, kind of beautiful. So, it makes sense, argues Brown, to show your vulnerabilities.
In fact, research shows that not hiding your vulnerability could have multiple benefits. For instance, admitting a mistake could lead to forgiveness while admitting your lack of knowledge about something could improve learning.
It’s natural to be vulnerable
One reason why many people are reluctant in showing their vulnerabilities is that they think that vulnerability is a show of weakness, something which ‘stronger’ people never have. This idea when taken to the extreme makes people believe they are never vulnerable.
In fact, Brown writes in the book how many people told her they “don’t do vulnerability.” But it couldn’t be farther from the truth.
While we may not have the choice to feel vulnerable or not, Brown argues that the thing to keep in mind is that you could choose how you respond when faced with vulnerabilities. And to confront those vulnerabilities rather than pretending they don’t exist would be the more meaningful course to take.
Being vulnerable is being truthful
As part of her research, Brown asked many people what made them feel vulnerable. Some of the answers included conceiving after three miscarriages, trying a new thing and starting one’s own business.
The beautiful insight that Brown comes to based on such answers is that vulnerability sounds like truth. She also acknowledges the courage in the acts the people mentioned.
Keeping this in mind, in an organizational context, showing your vulnerability could lead to a stronger relationship between the leaders and the team members.
The question of expressing vulnerability should be re-assessed
Showing vulnerability while respecting boundaries
Now that you have seen vulnerabilities are only a natural part of our existence, and the benefits in expressing them, there pops up another question: To what extent should I reveal my vulnerability?
Wouldn’t wearing your vulnerabilities on your sleeve be taking things a little too far? Brown certainly think so.
But leaders needn’t indulge in an as-transparent-as-can-be show of vulnerability either.
As Brown says, vulnerability acknowledges both trust and boundaries. She says it’s about sharing your feelings with those who have earned the right to know about them.
Mapping your strong points and vulnerabilities with Influence Maps
Given the social stigma often associated with displaying vulnerabilities, it’s typical for many of us to submerge our vulnerabilities far under the surface of our psyche. This makes identifying and addressing them problematic.
Influence Maps is a proprietary tool developed by Temenos+Agility that helps change agents map all their inner and external influences which address their behavior. By doing so, you get a holistic picture of your own self- the vulnerabilities and the strong points therein.
Using the tool, you now have a better hold on yourself, so to speak, enabling you to move forward with more confidence, effectively using your vulnerabilities and strength in equal measures.
Negating darker vulnerabilities with Clean Slate
While the positive aspects of revealing vulnerabilities have been discussed, it’s also true that darker vulnerabilities may also be a part of our psyche. And unless you deal with these, they might have a corrupting effect.
One of the more common of these include the misapprehensions change agents may have regarding people and/or processes. Most times, such misgivings are born from poor past experiences which make you reluctant to embrace changes, effectively stunting your professional growth.
Clean Slate is a session that’s part of TVL which helps you weed out these negativities. By virtue of self-reflection, you identify these negativities in your own self and move out of their realm. The practice of mindfulness forms the basis for this. Expert leadership coaches guide you in the process thereby enabling you to move on with less mental baggage and more confidence.
For change agents and leaders, not to benefit from meaningful events and gatherings is a missed opportunity! We invite you to indulge in some of the most transformational events from Temenos; designed with hard-earned understanding, organized just for you.
Temenos Vision Lab- Amsterdam, Netherlands( Nov 2, 2018)
Another venue to take an exquisite inner journey, to find your true Vision.
Temenos Vision Lab- Online ( December 21, 2018)
We invite you to this special gathering, which brings together a group of wonderful people who fill workplaces with joy and energy. By connecting with each other, you embark on a journey that leads to better clarity about the changes you seek, gain collaboration opportunities and leave with a concrete action plan.
Temenos Effect Gathering 2018- Bengaluru, India(Dec 29, 2018)
An event dedicated to the idea of personal mastery, for nurturing your beautiful self, for change agents and leaders to become their true selves.
For more details, visit our website: https://www.visiontemenos.com/events