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What is Vulnerability-Avoidance Costing You?

Effective leaders have many qualities and skills, but none are more valuable and sought after than courage and authenticity. According to the latest research by Dr. Brené Brown, vulnerability is the birthplace of authenticity and courage.Yet vulnerability avoidance tactics are abundant in the workplace.

We mask our feelings and expect everyone around us to suck it up and power through. We judge and criticize – sometimes silently. We try to appear as if we have it all together – like we never struggle. We write-off fear, disappointment, and grief as emotions that don’t belong in the workplace even though they profoundly affect performance and productivity. We work really hard to control what others think. We crack jokes to avoid being seen. We cling tightly to perfectionism to minimize the odds of failure.

Imagine mixing one or more of these behaviors with the leadership activities listed in Vulnerability 101. Herein lies the cost.

Business results

Avoiding vulnerability…

  1. Kills trust
  2. Causes disengagement
  3. Destroys creativity and innovation
  4. Prevents learning
  5. Facilitates status quo

 

Leaders who practice vulnerability…

  1. Build stronger relationships because they cultivate trust
  2. Attract top talent because they stimulate engagement
  3. Solve problems faster and proactively because they foster creativity and innovation
  4. Achieve better results faster because they cultivate learning
  5. Have a competitive advantage because they maximize potential

 

As leaders, if we find ourselves questioning the relevance of vulnerability it’s helpful to answer the following questions:

  • How is lack of trust affecting my team? My bottom line? My customers?
  • According to Gallup, only 30% of the workforce is engaged. What would change if more people in my company were engaged?
  • How would an increase in creativity and innovation affect my customers?
  • How much time would I save if people learned what they needed to learn faster?
  • If everyone in my company reached their full potential, how would that affect my results?

 

Yes, vulnerability is risky, unpredictable, and scary as hell, but the costs of avoiding vulnerability are too great to ignore. Engaging with vulnerability is the heart and soul of The Daring Way™ – it’s all about showing up, being seen, and living brave.

Vulnerability 101

We’re getting ready for our Daring Leadership™ Retreat and one of the questions that continues to surface is “What does vulnerability have to do with leadership?” Before we answer that question let’s define vulnerability:

Uncertainty, emotional exposure, and risk (Dr. Brené Brown, Daring Greatly).

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Now that we have a shared definition of vulnerability, think of all of the leadership activities that require vulnerability. To name a few….

  1. Admitting mistakes
  2. Giving feedback
  3. Disagreeing with someone
  4. Saying “I don’t know”
  5. Asking for help
  6. Creating a new process
  7. Sharing an idea
  8. Asking for a raise
  9. Turning down a promotion
  10. Asking for feedback

All of these activities involve some degree of uncertainty, emotional exposure, and risk. Of course there are ways to avoid vulnerability (people pleasing, avoidance, cynicism, etc.), but at what cost?

Stay tuned. Next we’ll explore the costs of avoiding vulnerability.

Flipping the Switch from Drama to Empowerment

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Last week, we dove into a detailed explanation of the different roles that facilitate drama and the roles that diffuse it. For this post, we’re looking to have a little fun exploring how to use that information to stage a full on drama-busting role reversal.

Moving from Victim to Creator-

There’s a scene in The Matrix, after the Oracle gives Neo bad news that he is not “The One.” The Oracle says something like, “you’re in charge of your own life, remember?”The same is true for us all. We can’t get lost in what other people think: we choose our attitudes, we choose our perspectives, we create our outcomes. When we see that there is the potential that we are playing the victim role, let’s break that cycle by asking questions like: “What do I want to create?” “How do I want to respond?” Better yet, let’s ask these questions every day and in order to prevent drama before it starts. That’s when we become drama-busting gurus.

Switching from Persecutor to Challenger-

Remember, being the persecutor starts with our beliefs, which means that we can overcome it by adjusting our thinking. First, we must acknowledge that the other person is NOT a victim: they are creative, capable, and resourceful. Once we are in this mindset we can change our role by changing our actions. For example:

  • Be courageous and tell the truth about what you see sans assumptions and judgments.

  • Encourage the person to take action and ask if they are willing. If not, say, “OK, what are you willing to do do?”

  • Share the ways in which you’re hoping they will grow or what you’re wanting them to learn and ask for their input.

Jumping from Rescuer to Coach-

Moving from rescuer to coach is similar to the old “Give someone a fish versus teaching them to fish” analogy (and we all know how it goes, so I won’t bore you here). We can’t fix the victim’s every problem for them. Instead, we can take the role of a guide. Instead of stepping in and resolving the problem with a quick wave of the wand, we can aim to guide them through it by asking questions such as, “What do you want?” “What are your choices?” “What outcomes are important to you?” If we continue to play the role of rescuer it’s the other person we are robbing in the end (and we don’t want to be the kind of people who rob others).

With the information now in front of us, let’s intend to make the switch from drama to empowerment. Being a drama buster means not only understanding how to prevent drama, but also recognizing when we are engaging in drama and consciously flipping the switch. Freeing ourselves from the negativity that soap-opera-like drama can bring into our personal and professional lives opens us up to the opportunity for greater success.

Our upcoming Ditch the Drama™ workshop will dive deeper into the subject in greater detail and we look forward to seeing you there!