Becoming That Leader Others Wish They Were: Discussing Serving by Leading and Being Vulnerable

This is the third post in the series Becoming that Leader Others Wish They Were. You can read the first post on leaders having clarity and warmth here and the second one on influence and compassion here. This post will expound on great leaders serving by leading and being vulnerable.

Great leaders serve by leading

A leader must lead. Where others see obstacles, he must see opportunities. When others see problems, he must see possibilities…” David J. Vaughan, Give Me Liberty: The Uncompromising Statesmanship of Patrick Henry.

There is a time a leader needs to step up to the podium and lead. It is such a disservice to the followers when the one in charge does not command and give a bearing when the sitaution is tricky.

The leader needs to offer direction that is strategically driven.

She needs to make tough decisions and take responsibility for failures.

He needs to balance strength with grace.

She needs to instruct with integrity and intentionality.

He needs to assess a person’s past failure in light of lessons they’ve learned and their current faithfulness to the task at hand.

When leaders lead, they offer clarity and share their vision. They motivate their followers with their passion. They lead by example – do as I say and do, not just as I say. They make decisions and communicate expectations. They hold themselves to a high standard of excellence and are accountable to others. They are also servant leaders.

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Great leaders are vulnerable

Vulnerability and leadership are not two words that are easily associated with one another. Most of us believe that to be a good leader you should never show any signs of weakness, which is what vulnerability is considered by many. Vulnerability can be defined as being completely and rawly open, unguarded with your heart, mind, and soul. Embracing vulnerability means having the courage to face your fears and the wild uncertainty of the future. A vulnerable leader decides that she will meet that uncertainty with an open heart, willing to experience all the ups and downs that come with it (Brené BrownDaring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead). 

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Once a leader decides to be vulnerable several things happen:

  • A culture of openness and loyalty is fostered. Performance problems can be resolved once and for all. People relate more easily.
  • He or she becomes more authentic. This in turn builds trust. Authentic behaviors include admitting to your flaws and mistakes, showing emotion, asking for and receiving help, and not hiding behind a manufactured facade.
  • Stronger bonds and connections are built. When leaders are vulnerable, they are more open and emotionally available, which creates more bonding opportunities and improves team performance.

Being vulnerable is part of transformative leadership. Appropriate vulnerability in leaders—being open and guarded in the right ways—can bless both the people a leader works with and the organization as a whole.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you!

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