Feeling and showing vulnerability is something most of us avoid. It makes us feel uncomfortable, open, and exposed. As people grow into leadership positions they often learn through social conditioning to make rational decisions, not to show too much emotion, stick to business; and to “stand tough” in the face of adversity and challenge.
While leaders can be afraid to show vulnerability with staff members or followers, it can be the very thing that makes the difference between good leadership and powerful, transformational leadership. Imagine a leader sharing with a staff person a tough lesson they learned in the past when one of their projects failed – or admitting that they have felt scared or intimidated in the past and how they moved through it to achieve their goals. When leaders share their fears or failures, or when they admit that they don’t have all the answers, it allows their employees to connect with them, to be seen as a real person and creates a stronger bond of trust and transparency.
Skilled executive coaches utilize a number of effective strategies to help clients access and show vulnerability. Through effective questioning, coaches help clients assess the systems in which they are operating and risk factors to consider. As a result of coaching, leaders recognize powerful outcomes both in terms of deeper bonds with those they lead, but also in their overall comfort in their leadership position.
Read the Vulnerability in Leadership chapter in Coaching Perspectives V for more.