Fear, Vulnerability and how opening up to your authentic self can make you a better leader.

You might think that fear, vulnerability and confidence don’t belong in the same sentence but according to Brene Brown, they actually do.

Many of us have been raised to think of vulnerability as a weakness. It’s something to cover up – your weak point – and you need to protect it from view at all costs, or you’ll be hurt. Brown takes the opposite point of view, saying that vulnerability is power.

“Vulnerability is not about fear and grief and disappointment. It’s the birthplace of everything we’re hungry for: joy, creativity, faith, love, spirituality,” she says. “And the whole thing is, there is no innovation and creativity without failure.”

In an interview for Forbes magazine she goes on to say, “When you shut down vulnerability, you shut down opportunity.” In her opinion, entrepreneurship is all about vulnerability.

In fact, by allowing yourself to be vulnerable, you will build your confidence and learn to trust yourself and your judgement.

Possibly one of the most difficult parts of being a leader is learning to allow yourself to be vulnerable and learning how to model that for your team. I don’t blame anyone for being afraid when they let their guard down. Not everyone is going to understand what you are doing, or why, and not everyone will be willing to follow your example.

As leader, you need to create an environment in which it is safe for your team members to expose their vulnerabilities.

Luckily the brain can be your best ally in this situation.

The hippocampus is the part of your brain which involves memory and learning. It helps us put situations into context, based on our experiences, so we know how to react and when it’s ok to express our vulnerability. It’s the hippocampus which will help you overcome fear by drawing on the memory of similar circumstances in which you managed yourself well.

What that means for leaders is that you may need to build opportunities for success into the process of exploring vulnerability. It means that you may need to help your team members notice what is happening to them during those moments of vulnerability. The more mindful they are during those moments, the more information is stored in the hippocampus, to be drawn on later, as they need it.

A trait which seems to be a weakness is actually a strength.

A team which is strong enough to show vulnerability is a team which is confident enough to be creative, loyal, adaptable and focused. It’s a team in which each member has learned to trust themselves in the face of risk, and to learn from every experience.

If you would like some help boosting your team effectiveness through their understanding of the power of vulnerability, give us a call to see how we can help.


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