pauly shore vulnerability in leadership

Vulnerability in Leadership: Do You Have the Courage?

Pauly Shore, an early ‘90s icon, took a risk. A couple of weeks ago on Facebook, he stuck up for fellow celebrity, Bridget Fonda. Fonda was social media’s latest victim being chastised for weight gain. But, as you see from his post, Shore stepped up normalized the situation with a courageous act of kindness: posting an unflattering photo of himself. It’s not easy to bring attention to what you or others may consider an inadequacy. Do you have the courage to lead with vulnerability?

Vulnerability and Authenticity

Vulnerability is integral to great leadership in any realm of life: management, coaching, parenting–even friendship. It seems counterintuitive. Shouldn’t we be demonstrating our strengths? Don’t we need to instill confidence with our knowledge and abilities?

How does demonstrating vulnerability make you a better leader, parent, or friend?

It allows people to be authentic.

Your authenticity allows others to be the best version of themselves. It provides a safe, inclusive environment for people to show up authentically–not who they think you want them to be.

It fosters trust.

When you let your guard down, you are giving up a part of yourself. Giving up a part of yourself is an investment in your relationship, an indicator of your commitment. This fosters a trusting bond between people.

It normalizes mistakes and encourages risk-taking.

Fighting perfectionism is a constant battle for me, and I know many of you can identify with that. Taking risks and making mistakes scares me and frankly, holds me back. But seeing others admit their mistakes or shortcomings inspires courage. We can’t be perfect. It’s an impossible standard.

It promotes well-being by creating an opportunity to ask for help.

It’s not easy to ask for help and let in kindness. Admitting that you’ve made a mistake or that you’re having a hard time with something opens the door for someone to offer their help. And if they can help you, it’s going to be a lot easier for them to ask when they need it.

Everyday vulnerability requires us to maintain a disposition toward courage.  Active caring almost always risks something meaningful to us.

Houston Kraft

Baby Steps to Vulnerability

Demonstrating vulnerability takes courage, and it can be difficult to know where to start. Afterall, we are programmed to put forth our best efforts and highlight our assets. How do you safely begin? Baby steps.

  • Admit when you make a mistake.

I find this hardest to do with the people closest to me–especially my husband.

  • Say you’re sorry when it really matters.

“Sorry” has become a substitution for “excuse me” in my lexicon, and I’m actively trying to change that. But apologizing when I really mean it takes effort. I think it can be particularly difficult when I’m in a position of authority–like apologizing to my children.

  • Discuss your concerns, hesitations, worries.

As a mother, I want my children to see me as confident, capable, and brave. So, it’s hard to share when I feel nervous or worried about something that I “should” have under control. Being the person who can openly discuss hesitations and ask for support is brave–and it takes confidence. And it’s invaluable for my mental health and theirs moving forward.

The Ripple Effect

Kind acts cause a ripple effect: treating someone with kindness will likely cause that person to do the same for another. Demonstrating your vulnerability to another to nurture a connection is an act of kindness. Your example will carry forward and benefit others.

Pauly Shore’s act of kindness had a ripple effect. Last I checked, over 266,000 people had liked or loved his post, and it had been shared over 12,000 times.

“Courage has a ripple effect.  Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world a little braver.  And our world could stand to be a little kinder and braver.”

Brené Brown

Lead and Inspire

Embracing your own vulnerabilities demonstrates compassion for yourself. Sharing them with others demonstrates compassion for them. Don’t underestimate the power of vulnerability in leadership. What you may feel is a weakness can be a great source of strength for yourself and the others you inspire.

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