You were a rising star in your company and promoted to a leadership role. You’ve been given management tools and a crash course in leadership. Deep inside, you strive to be the sort of leader that empowers, motivates and brings out the best in your team. How can you become your ideal version of a leader?
What Got You There
- Prove yourself
- Climb the ladder
- Show return on value
- Think. Build. Do. Profit
Now, you want to be inspiring.
Your New Opportunity
- Be human, that’s why we hired you
- Please fail. And try again
- Uncertainty is the only constant
- Believe. Create. Do Good. Profit
Sound a little more aspirational and something you’d want to be a part of? If so, then let’s learn how to tap into the superpower you already have as a leader — vulnerability.
The Vulnerability Reframe
One of a leader’s most important traits is authenticity (i.e., the degree to which an individuals’ actions are in harmony with beliefs and desires despite external pressures).
Former Chairman and CEO of Medtronic, Bill George, popularized the concept of authenticity in his book, Authentic Leadership. He suggests that authentic leaders demonstrate five qualities: understanding their purpose, practicing solid values, leading with heart, establishing connected relationships, and demonstrating self-discipline.
Leading with your heart can also be called vulnerability – something that was once interpreted as a sign of weakness, but today, is actually a leadership superpower.
Vulnerability is the state of being open, transparent, porous and setting the intention to consciously choose to reveal who you are over what you do, and it plays a significant role in a leader being perceived as authentic. Being vulnerable requires putting yourself out there, being seen, and being okay with asking more questions than having answers. It requires sharing your certainty and uncertainty, confidence and concerns, and hopes and fears regarding the business with the team you lead. Because when a leader is authentically vulnerable, it creates a safe place for others to authentically give of themselves. This means not wearing a job title as if it were body armor, but rather, developing deep connections on the basis of being genuinely curious about one another?
Not long ago, a group of 30 senior executives was brought together to uncover how they could transform their leadership within their organizations, with the starting point being themselves. For two hours, we shared our personal and professional wins and losses (i.e., those low points we typically don’t look to share). While not a comfortable experience, through this activity the group really got to understand each other, both our gifts and our weaknesses. The exercise was one from the heart. When we opened up, we allowed the real movement to happen. We heard about divorce, failure on projects and fears. We also heard about wins, important personal moments and dreams. Ask yourself, when was the last time your leadership team was so honest with each other? When was the last time you were so honest with yourself in front of your peers or subordinates?
Unlock Your Vulnerability Superpower
To unlock your vulnerability superpower, try these reframes:
Title hiding Genuine connecting
Answer giving Question asking
Professionally guarded Professionally human
And ask yourself:
- What is the most open and real way I can connect with my team?
- What am I most afraid of sharing?
- How can I serve them most powerfully?
The real connection between a leader and those they serve comes from not only seeing what others experience but being brave (i.e., vulnerable) enough to say, “Yes. I feel that way too,” and that common ground is where honesty, trust, and solutions reside.
For leaders ready to unlock their superpowers, I recommend an energy audit – learn how you are using your energy for our against you with an Energy Leadership Assessment, one of the top 10 Leadership Assessments according to Forbes.
Note: This article was originally published in the February issue of Life Science Leader