Vulnerability: The true measure of leadership

If you were to take the advice of all of the books, articles and blogs about leadership, it seems like it is synonymous with perfection – more importantly, suppressing any negative emotions. That’s a lot of pressure. I would argue that being vulnerable is the key to strong leadership and that means showing all emotions, but in a respectful way and with the intent to use the emotion to teach and develop your team. I’ve learned that it takes strength to show vulnerability.

Prior to my transformation, I was an angry person and therefore, an angry leader. It was difficult for me to forgive my team for perceived slights, making mistakes and lack of results. I could not bring myself to forgive them for these transgressions, and I would let anger lead. After I would blow up, I realized that it didn’t make my team better. Afterwards it was hard for my team to forgive me simply because I did not ask for their forgiveness. I saw vulnerability as weakness. My lack of vulnerability stopped me from seeing that my behavior was harmful to my team and the business. How could my team forgive me if I didn’t apologize and change my behavior?

That was the old me. I’m happy to report that I’m able to show strength through vulnerability.

As I continue to transform, there are still times when I get angry. But I do not let anger lead. Instead, I have learned to take time with my anger through introspection and to define it – where it stems from, why it’s there and how to channel it to positive outcomes. I have learned to apologize, to forgive and to ask for forgiveness.

We can’t expect leaders to be perfect. They are human beings with an array of emotions.

However, we can all learn how to be vulnerable and strong by channeling those difficult emotions. That’s what leadership is all about.