How Vulnerability Can Make Us Stronger

How does vulnerability impact your ability to lead? Are you often tempted to hide your weaknesses and present a facade so you don't "lose face" in the eyes of those you'd hope to influence? Take a tip from the Starship Enterprise on how you can lead better with your shields down.

Trust is a key to accomplishment through relationships.

Trust lubricates relationships. It lets people work as a team. Trust provides room to move and enables everyone to perform at their best. Trust isn’t the only key to successful teams, but very few succeed without trust.

One of the key ingredients of trust is vulnerability.

We trust people if we believe they spend their energy for our mutual benefit. We all operate for our own benefit, but we trust people who have some energy for us.

We all manage our appearance. We work out, brush our teeth, comb our hair (if we still have hair). We try to make ourselves presentable. But we also have radar for how much energy people spend on us. If our teammates spend all their energy on themselves, we become skeptical when they tell us they’re for us. We get skeptical if people spend all their time promoting themselves, making themselves look good.

When we perceive others to only be “in it for themselves,” we withhold trust. Remember the old (and new and new and new. . . ) Star Trek series? On the Starship Enterprise, energy was used to support life systems, propel the ship through space, fire the weapons and support the shields. If the shields were up and active, the ship consumed more energy and was less able to maneuver.

Vulnerability is operating with your shields down.

If your shields are up, we don’t trust you. When your shields are down, you’re free to use all of your energy in service to others.

As leaders, operating with our shields down means we’re free to do what’s best for everyone around us. We can spend our best energy to make others successful. We bring our best self and our best energy to serve our team, our customers or our friends. We become a peer, an encourager and someone who is free to truly empathize with our team. We make our team better, and that makes us the best leader we can be.

So, this week, resist the temptation to protect yourself by managing your presentation, trying to look like the boss or always being right. Be as vulnerable and transparent as you can. Your best energy will make you much more beneficial and helpful to others. They’ll grow more and succeed better with your help.

This article was previously published at the Lead Change Group.

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