Since her 2010 TEDx talk, Brené Brown has delivered vulnerability front and center as a key part of being human, and in leading others. Like previous disruptions to the conventional view of leadership, many of us have struggled with how to apply her well-researched concepts into our daily leadership practice. Leveraging The BluePrint Toolset™ model, we can focus on three key styles that leverage vulnerability to build and reinforce quality relationships within our teams, organizations and our community as a whole.
Regard: Having unconditional regard for others is about accepting that everyone is deserving of dignity. Vulnerability is a key part to having and modeling Regard, as we need to accept that we are no better or worse than anyone else. We might be more skilled or effective in one area but less so in other areas. That is what makes us unique and human. As leaders, we recognize and leverage the strengths that each of our team members bring to the situation. Reminding our team members of their strengths and roles helps to connect each as a member of the team, and reinforces the skills that they need to bring to their work and co-workers.
Gratefulness: Recognizing that our success is built on the efforts of so many others builds people on our team, in other departments and the entire community. As a leader, when we demonstrate Gratefulness, we show that we are part of an interconnected community, that no one truly does it on their own. The key is not to just say “thank you,” but to identify what the person has done and how that has positively impacted you and the organization. When we recognize others in this way, we reinforce their own efficacy, and help them grow their contribution to the whole.
Humility: Operating with humility is balancing a belief that we are enough, with a desire to continue to grow and learn. We may not have all the answers, but we have value. This balance of confidence with humility is key to preventing arrogance. As leaders, we demonstrate this by being open to the idea that someone else might be right; or in other words, we could be wrong. This is where vulnerability leads to courage, as we see the needs of the team and organization are more important than our need to be right. Many leaders fail on this balance, as they are stuck in the notion that being right drives confidence and certainty in the team. What it drives is perceived arrogance. And when a leader comes across as arrogant, team members lose confidence. They tend to see that leader as someone who will not look at all available data to make the right decision.
Role modeling is an essential aspect as we Nurture Growth within our teams. When we demonstrate these three leadership styles, we build strong social connections and healthy interdependence within our organization. We also grow ourselves through the process of shedding the façade of our own perfection.