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What's the Power of Vulnerability?

Updated: Jul 9, 2019

Vulnerability is a self-management tool which minimizes the power of one’s ego (preconceived paradigms and ideas), and in doing so thought, clarity and objectivity are elevated. Additionally, those we are conversing with feel less defensive and guarded, and free to bring their intellectual best to the conversation. We’d be shocked to know how psychological baggage is influencing conversations and decision-making in our business world.

The payoffs of vulnerability are elusive at best and, frankly, incomprehensible by many in the business world. Admittedly, the application of vulnerability, generally considered a weakness or threat in the context of leadership, is a somewhat foreign concept. I get it. And yet, it serves as an incredible tool in the hands of an authentic leader. Please, allow me to elaborate.


"We’d be shocked to know how psychological baggage is influencing conversations and decision-making in our business world."

With all due respect to the seasoned supervisors reading this article who may be already dismissing this notion as psychobabble, give me five minutes of your valuable time to prove my case.  After all, your author is not some high-brow social academician, but a simple firefighter who's been fortunate to have stumbled onto the ever-pursued missing ingredient in the recipe for personal leadership success.


Vulnerability can be defined as exposure to physical or emotional harm. It’s the emotional or psychological threat that has import for us in the world of leadership. Before I go any further, I must confess this lesson came very late in my formal leadership life. I’d like to say I saw the virtue of vulnerability decades ago, but I didn’t. I imagine the reason for me being such a late bloomer is the same reason many of you reading this may find yourself rather dismissive. Vulnerability is contrary to nearly all models of leadership. Honestly, it feels threatening, and therein lies its power. It’s the neutralizer of the ego.


The Ego

The ego is the most treacherous force influencing your objectivity and detachment from an overactive premature cognitive commitment. A warning: I don’t use ego as a synonym for conceit or arrogance, rather as the unobserved mind, conditioned by our past experiences and education. A mental construct forming firm ideas and beliefs that filter all we see and hear.


Truth be told, this cognitive commitment goes so far as to determine how we experience the world. Actually, very few of us see the world as it is, rather we see it as we believe it should be. Back to vulnerability; it is one of the most effective means by which we suspend our pre-established mental construct so as to entertain new ideas and information. It is our pathway to clarity of thought, free from the biases that cloud objectivity. Additionally, a willingness to put ourselves in a vulnerable state by the way we speak and carry ourselves puts others at ease, bringing down their defenses, and allows for more egoless conversations. Less ego results in more productive conversation, every time!


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Do you need to further discuss the power of vulnerability? Contact me.

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