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).


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.

Counteracting Drama with 3 Simple Roles

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I am very excited about continuing our conversation about drama this week. If you missed my last post, “An Introduction to Drama: The 5 Questions to Defining It,” we are discussing drama to help round out our Ditch the Drama™ workshop, which will next be held at the end of July. In this post we get to answer two very important questions:

  1. What are the roles that breathe life into drama?

  2. What are the roles that bust drama?

I have never been one to “hold for effect,” so let’s dig right in.

1. What are the roles that breathe life into drama?

  • Victim – a person who perceives that someone, or some circumstance, is doing something to them, thus becoming powerless, helpless, or not in control. When a person surrenders to this belief (consciously or unconsciously), they become a victim.

  • Persecutor – a person, condition or situation that is doing something to the victim. The persecutor believes that they are justified and most importantly that they are right. For example, a person could believe that the victim is wrong, incompetent, or powerless and is behaving accordingly.

  • Rescuer – a person, thing or activity that serves to save the day by making the persecutor go away or by numbing the pain associated with being persecuted. For example, a person could be a rescuer if they stand up for the victim. It can also be a substance such as alcohol or drugs, or an activity like kickboxing or fighting.

2. What are the roles that bust drama?

While the roles that create drama seem extreme, and we may consider ourselves innocent of them, the truth is that drama is not just for Drama Queens, we are all participating in it on some level everyday. The trick is being able to recognize the subtle hints that we have fallen into a role and take the necessary steps to shift into one of the following roles:

  • Creator – a person who, instead of playing the role of victim, asks questions like: what do I want, what are my choices? They choose and create their own outcomes and experiences.

  • Challenger – a person, condition or situation that provides an opportunity for learning, growth and development.

  • Coach – a person who facilitates, supports, and champions learning, growth and development.

Knowing these roles helps us identify when we are in a drama creating role and what we can do to navigate to a drama busting role. In the next post we’ll further our analysis to discover how we can use our understandings of drama to gain power over it and even prevent it altogether. It is all part of the march towards our Ditch the Drama™ workshop. I invite you to check back next week and don’t forget to sign up for the workshop; it’s fast approaching.