Podcast 46: Leadership Skills: Being Vulnerable

Transcript for Podcast 46 is below

Transformational Leadership Is Vulnerability

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Hugh Ballou

An effective leader does not have all the answers, but asks good questions.

In the beginning, people think vulnerability will make you weak, but it does the opposite. It shows you’re strong enough to care. – Victoria Pratt

Transformational LeadershipBeing vulnerable is a strength of leadership, not a weakness. We think that being strong means that we are not vulnerable, not transparent, and basically not honest with those whom we lead. In fact, when we are not transparent, people know it and want to prove to us that they know it.

The autocratic leader holds secrets, uses power, and has all the answers – this equates to being the “Boss.”

Rather than being “bossy,” the Transformational Leader builds leadership skills in team members by nurture, engagement, questioning, and any activity that enables team members to use their thinking skills.

A large part of Transformational Leadership, as a style of leadership, is authenticity. Do what you say. Do what you ask others to do. Be genuine. Be ethical.

Transparency is related to, but not the same as, vulnerability, therefore, the transparent leader is open, direct, and vulnerable. Consequently, this includes the authentic statement, “I don’t know.” Pretending to know and providing an answer or solution that is made up, and not authentic and not accurate, is deadly. Therefore, if teams do not trust the leader, then there is little or no open, honest, and direct communication. In some cases, teams will try to prove the leader to be wrong.

The Transformational Leader empowers, engages, equips, and inspires leaders on teams by open transparent communication based on relationship.

Here are some thoughts from others:

As James Jordan puts it, “And he talked at length about being authentic and vulnerable with your singers, so as to get to the soft, immaculate heart of the music for an emotional, rapturous performance.” (1)

Henri Nouwen says, “Let’s not forget the preciousness and vulnerability of life during the times we are powerful, successful, and popular.” (2)

Also, Cal Turner, Jr., former CEO and President of Dollar General, shared with me that he was able to be transparent with his team of managers in telling them that he had the vision for the company, but didn’t have the skills for getting there. That’s where they could fill in with their skills. As a result he pointed out that leadership is basically identifying the gaps and finding people to fill in those gaps. (3)

“After spending the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, shame, and worthiness, I’ve come to believe that leadership has nothing to do with position, salary, or number of direct reports. I believe a leader is anyone who holds her- or himself accountable for finding potential in people and processes.” – Brené Brown (4)

The pastor, corporate leader, conductor, and professor all advocate vulnerability from different perspectives.

Hugh Ballou
The Transformational Leadership Strategist

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1. James Jordan in the Musician’s Soul: Musician’s Soul: A Journey Examining Spirituality for Performers, Teachers, Composers, Conductors, and Music Educators

2. Nouwen, Henri J. M. (2009-03-17). Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith (p. 4). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

3. Cal Turner, Jr. Leadership is About Defining Your Gaps http://transformationalstrategist.com/leadership-is-about-defining-your-gaps/

4. Brené Brown, PhD, site: http://www.brenebrown.com/


More Resources:

Henna Inam: Why Vulnerability Can Be Your Biggest Strength http://www.transformleaders.tv/why-vulnerability-can-be-your-biggest-strength/

Thrive Blog: A Leader’s Key to Influence: Developing Your Vulnerability Muscles http://www.thriveinc.com/leaders_key.htm

Mike Robbins: The Value of Vulnerable Leadership http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-robbins/vulnerable-leadership_b_639382.html

Kevin Eikenberry: Why Remarkable Leaders Are Vulnerable http://blog.kevineikenberry.com/leadership/why-remarkable-learners-are-vulnerable/