Leadership Skills: Vulnerability As A Strength

Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage. – Brené Brown


Brene Brown CourageIn her recent TEDX talk, Brené Brown laid it on the line about vulnerability being a leadership strength. Kimberly Weisul shared a post on Inc. Magazine’s blog called, Why the Best Leaders Are Vulnerable. In the post, Weisul summarizes Brown’s 4 main points in the TED Talk. The points identify the common conceptions by leaders about vulnerability:

Myth 1: Vulnerability is weakness.

Myth 2: You can opt out of vulnerability.

Myth 3: Vulnerability means letting it all hang out.

Myth 4: I can go it alone.


Those titles provide a hint at her wisdom, however, I suggest that you read her blog post to get the reasons behind those points. Some of the basic points reinforce the ideas I shared in my post on vulnerability on June 10, 2013. I learned from the teacher of choral conductors, James Jordan, that the conductor must be willing to be vulnerable on the podium before he or she can allow great music to occur. That principle applies to leadership in any venue or in any organization.

The journey from confusion to clarity, from doubt to sureness, from helpless to accomplished is a journey of self-discovery and capacity building. Taking the first step is the key. If we never act on ideas, then we can’t gain the experience and knowledge to accomplish much. Leaders are people who take chances and get things done.

As it happened, today, as I was listening to the sermon at church, Chris McLean provided some points that jumped out at me. She pointed out that God does not call us according to our strength, but through our vulnerability. Our vulnerability affirms God’s power. She went on to point out that we typically look for the answers, but there are no answers. The answers are what help us to gain strength as we struggle in finding the answer that works. As our weakness becomes strength in God’s power, we are set free. We are especially free when we are not accomplishing results for our own credit.

The themes that jumped out at me this week are very clear. I must act on what I know to be true regardless of the surety that I can actually accomplish what my mind can envision. At the age of 18, I saw an ad for a church choir director position. I was in my first year of music school and was considering a career in church music. I had no experience directing a choir, in fact, I had never even sung in a choir. Nevertheless, I applied for and received the job. That began my 40-year career in conducting. Over those 40 years, I was presented with many incredible opportunities. Each time, I acted by accepting the opportunity and working through my vulnerability. Amazingly, I was successful over and over, gaining experience and skills.

My first-hand advice is to step out in faith when opportunity presents itself. Working through the feeling of vulnerability is a challenge that empowers success.

What is holding you back from being vulnerable and moving toward the success you deserve?

Quotes from Brené Brown:

Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.
In our moments of most intense joy, we realize how vulnerable we are.
The most powerful teaching moments are the ones where you screw up.
Vulnerability is terrifying and feels dangerous. It is not as scary, terrifying, and dangerous as getting to the end of our lives and asking what would have happened if I’d shown up? What if?


Hugh Ballou
The Transformational Leadership Strategist

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