The Leading Blog






05.23.24

Leading Thoughts for May 23, 2024

Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:

I.

Judge Charles W. McCoy on keeping an open mind:

“The human mind contains a door, one that either opens to new ideas or closes them out. The door swings on hinges like any other, opening as it searches for understanding and closing as it makes. Judgments. Herein lies a crucial truth. Sharp thinkers do not take open minds for granted. They concentrate on keeping their minds open long enough to gather all the relevant information needed for making sound judgments. Mediocre thinking begins judging at the outset, and often confuses preconceptions with real understanding. As the old saying goes, “Some people never learn anything because they understand everything too soon.

“The mind’s door, even those of the greatest thinkers, can open and close seemingly on its own without the slightest conscious nudge. Sharp thinking thus requires intentional effort at keeping the door open, especially in trying circumstances where tough problems arise.”

Source: Why Didn’t I Think of That? Think the Unthinkable and Achieve Creative Greatness

II.

James Autry and Peter Roy on integrity:

“The choices that will create the most frustration and anxiety, as well as the greatest challenge to your ability to maintain an ethical balance, will be about relationships, not about money. Once you recognize that your integrity is on the line every day, then your work life takes on a different meaning. You realize that as you begin to face the choices and make the ones that reflect your true self, then you can have an enormous impact on your workplace, regardless of your position in the organizational hierarchy.”

Source: The Book of Hard Choices: How to Make the Right Decisions at Work and Keep Your Self-Respect

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Leading Thoughts Whats New in Leadership Books

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05.20.24

Creating a Supportive Environment for Organizational Change

Supportive Environment

TODAY, change management is an integral part of organizational strategy. Yet, change in any form or context tends to challenge our sense of stability and security. Whenever new concepts, methods, or ways of thinking are introduced, they are bound to come up against resistance. Apprehension about the future impedes progress and undermines well-conceived change efforts.

What’s more, in any change initiative, making assumptions regarding people’s perspectives toward a given change can undermine its success. Picture a runner at the start line of the Boston Marathon. While this runner is prepared to sprint when the starting gun fires, those further back are unaware that the race has begun and, given their position in the pack, will start out at barely a jog. In change management, assuming everyone is prepared at the same time to move at the same pace can result in miscommunication, resistance, and disengagement. When all team members that the change impacts haven’t been adequately informed or involved in the process, it leads to disparities in understanding and engagement.

Effective leadership during times of change involves recognizing and managing one’s own reactions while also understanding and empathizing with the responses of others. It requires that leaders acknowledge employees’ struggles, facilitate open communication, and offer support. Conversely, turning a blind eye to these issues only erodes trust and morale.

Successful leaders recognize their role in setting the tone, establishing the vision, and providing direction and support to their teams through a change initiative. They understand that their actions and behaviors significantly influence how change is perceived and embraced within the organization.

It’s helpful to know that, despite their differences in approach and methodology, all change management initiatives share common elements. While guiding change demands a methodical strategy and meticulous preparation, employing a thoughtful approach throughout enables leaders to strengthen their own and their teams’ resilience. In doing so, they’re able to promote change not as a disruptor of stability but as a catalyst for the organization’s necessary evolution.

To create a supportive environment for your change initiative, adhere to these eight recommendations:

  1. Establish a clear vision and purpose. Similar to a company vision, clearly define the vision and purpose of the change initiative, outlining the desired outcomes and benefits for the organization and its stakeholders. A compelling change vision provides direction and motivation, rallying support for the change effort.
  2. Engage stakeholders early and often. As with any significant initiative, engage key stakeholders throughout the change process, soliciting their input, addressing concerns, and building buy-in. Stakeholder engagement fosters ownership and commitment to the change initiative, increasing the likelihood of success.
  3. Communicate openly and transparently. Communication is critical during times of change. Keep stakeholders informed and engaged through regular updates, town hall meetings, and other communication channels. Without over-communicating, be honest and transparent about the reasons for the change, its potential impact, and the expected outcomes. Finding the right balance in communication during change involves several key considerations:

    1. Identify needs. Understand the information needs and preferences of your stakeholders. Tailor your communication approach to meet these needs, whether it’s providing detailed updates for some or high-level summaries for others.
    2. Determine the appropriate frequency of updates. Too much communication can lead to information overload, while too little can leave stakeholders feeling uninformed. Find a cadence that keeps stakeholders engaged without overwhelming them.
    3. Ensure clarity and conciseness. Make sure messages are clear, concise, and easy to understand. Avoid jargon and technical language and focus on conveying information in a straightforward manner.
    4. Engage in two-way communication. Establish avenues for two-way communication, enabling stakeholders to inquire, offer feedback, and express concerns. This fosters engagement and helps address any misunderstandings or issues that may arise.
    5. Employ feedback mechanisms. Offer channels for sharing feedback to gauge stakeholder satisfaction with communication efforts. Regularly solicit feedback and adjust as needed to improve the effectiveness of communication.
Remaining honest and forthcoming with information pertaining to organizational change helps to mitigate fears and anxieties. It can promote a mindset organization-wide that better embraces change as a natural and necessary part of growth and evolution.

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Leading Forum
Mindy Vail has over two decades of experience in leadership development, change management, education, and public speaking. Working with emerging leaders and veteran executives, her focus is cultivating a growth mindset and fostering resilience. Her book, The Mindshift Effect: Where Change Management Is Redefined and Leadership Is Defined provides inspiration for leading meaningful organizational change. Learn more at themindshifteffect.com

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Secret to Culture Change Change Kotter

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05.17.24

The Negativity Fast or How to Clear Your Plate of Negative Thinking

Negativity Fast

WE are inclined to place a lot of weight on negative thoughts—far more than our positive thoughts. Our brains are wired for it. It’s called the negativity bias. And today it seems like we are thinking more negative thoughts than positive ones. And it’s not just us. Everyone seems more negative than they used to be, if not downright cranky. It becomes a vicious circle. We infect them with negativity, and they infect us too.

How do we turn this around?

Life is too short to spend most of our time immersed in negativity. Former negativity addict Anthony Iannarino wrote The Negativity Fast to help us implement a practical strategy to be more positive more of the time—to help us let things go. Iannarino covers ten behaviors that impact our relationship with negativity, like negative self-talk, complaining, empathy, gratitude, social media, and the way we frame what happens to us.

To be sure, not all negativity is bad. We often have good reason to be negative. It is an appropriate response. But when we remain in a negative state of mind, we’re in trouble. Sometimes, we “talk” ourselves into a negative emotional state. We catastrophize events and situations. We assume the worst because we’re afraid things aren’t going to meet our expectations.

Speaking of expectations, we often assume the worst of other people’s motives.

You see, sometimes we’re negative precisely because we lie (even just to ourselves) about other people. We insist that they’re intentionally creating problems for us, and malice can be their only motive. One way to reduce your stress is to lie to yourself about why people do things that bother you. If you can remember a time when you were not at your best, even in public, you can empathize with them rather than throwing the first stone.

Empathy is key for dealing with other people if you don’t want to get caught up in the drama. Another strategy is radical acceptance. Iannarino explains:

You might have a difficult person or an event that triggers negativity. By accepting that it is what it is without judging it, you let it go. You don’t have to agree with a person to forget or forgive. Radical acceptance allows you to set it down and leave it right where it is. Being able to accept as they are, you accept that someone or something isn’t fair or that something should be different.

Complaining puts you in a victim mentality and can place others in an environment that others perceive as toxic. Accept things as they are, and don’t complain. “One of the best ways to stop complaining is to turn your attention to solving the problem, addressing a challenge, or fixing what is broken. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong, you start to figure out what needs to change and how best to make things better.”

When we complain, we are pointing out something that needs attention. The key here is that your complaint should be the beginning of a meaningful process. After you voice concern, you need to do something about it.

On the other side of complaining is gratitude. Gratitude puts us in a positive frame of mind. We are looking for things to be thankful for in spite of what is happening around us. It shifts our focus.

Reframing is the act of turning something negative into a positive lesson. You create a narrative that makes you stronger after a negative event.

The traumas we experience can only limit us when we invest negative meaning into these events, telling and retelling the story. Your story or my story can be one of surviving and overcoming, or it can be one we tell ourselves to explain why we are something less after trauma. One way to be less negative is to reframe your negative events and traumas.

Reframing involves addressing our assumptions about the world around us. “This means that one rebuilds one’s assumption world, incorporating the trauma information, but being able to find a new meaning or positive angle with this change in one’s life.”

Our physical health affects our mental state. If you want to be more positive, you need to take care of yourself. The SHED anacronym helps you to remember the key areas of concern. Sleep (“the best meditation is sleep”), Hydration (drink more water), Exercise (it releases the feel-good endorphins and gives you more energy), and Diet (think less processed foods).

When helping others, it’s hard to feel negative. “If you want to boost your self-esteem and dopamine, choose—kindness and prosocial behavior.”

The Negativity Fast Challenge

Over the course of 90 days, focus on eliminating as many sources of negativity as possible and replace them with something positive. Minimize or eliminate social media and other triggers in your life. Identify what triggers you. Which of the behaviors listed above could you work on?

The world brings all kinds of surprises, including negative surprises. Remember, the goal here is not to be negative when situations call for negativity. The goal is to remove the sources of negativity that poison your mindset and reduce the quality of your life.

We can often be the biggest sources of negativity for ourselves, so don’t forget to look at your own behaviors, thought patterns, and habits.

You may revert to negative thinking in the middle of the challenge. That’s okay. Start over. The goal is not to be perfect but to reduce the negative thinking in your life.

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Dispute Catastrophic Thoughts How You Become Optimistic

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:17 AM
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05.16.24

Leading Thoughts for May 16, 2024

Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:

I.

Nido Qubein on becoming a transformational leader:

“People value authenticity ahead of charisma. Charisma gets you in the door, but it takes substance to deliver results. We all must remember it’s not about us. It’s about everyone around us. They are our team; you are their coach. You have to listen to what they say and engage your mind to absorb and understand their concerns. We need to listen twice as much as we talk, and others will hear twice as much of what we say. By listening, you will gain information and knowledge. Write it down to remember it. Then, execute. The end result? Wisdom begins to blossom.”

Source: Extraordinary Transformation: An Entrepreneurial Blueprint for Leaders Who Seek Transformational Growth in Any Organization Proven Lessons on How a ... and Inspired the Next Generation of Leaders

II.

Julia DiGangi on being right:

“What’s the fastest way to end a tug-of-war? Drop the rope. Maybe you’re starting to protest, “But why do I have to drop the rope? Why can’t they drop the rope?” Dropping the rope may seem like dropping out of the fight. Giving up. Losing. It’s not, though. Whoever voluntarily drops the rope is the leader.

To understand why, zoom out and look at tugs-of-war in the context of the leadership you want to create. Your role as a leader is to translate your vision into collective momentum—it’s about moving people from where they are to where they have the potential to be. No one will follow you while they’re busy fighting you. People get locked into exhausting tugs-of-war when they feel their independence is being disrespected—when their needs are ignored and their ideas devalued. Command energy is often the cause: Human beings can handle not getting their way; what they can’t handle is feeling dominated.”

Source: Article: The Anxious Micromanager—Why Some Leaders Become Too Controlling and How They Find the Right Balance

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Leading Thoughts Whats New in Leadership Books

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05.13.24

4 Rules to Unlocking the Secret Language of Connection

Supercommunicators

THE GOAL of any communication is to connect. Some people are supercommunicators. That is, as they talk, they align with the person they are speaking with, constantly adjusting how they communicated in order to match their companions.

In Supercommunicators, Charles Duhigg explores how we communicate and connect. He explains why our communication sometimes goes awry and what we can do to make it better. “Anyone can become a supercommunicator—and, in fact, many of us already are, if we learn to unlock our instincts.”

To begin, we need to understand that many discussions are actually three different conversations, and if we want to connect, we need to be “engaged in the same kind of conversation, at the same time” as the person we are communicating with.

There are practical, decision-making conversations that focus on What’s This Really About? There are emotional conversations, which ask How Do We Feel? And there are social conversations that explore Who Are We? We are often moving in and out of all conversations as a dialogue unfolds. However, if we aren’t having the same kind of conversation as our partners, at the same moment, we’re unlikely to connect with each other.

With that in mind, we can see that the most meaningful conversations should be characterized as learning conversations. We want to learn how others see the world and help them to understand how we see the world too. Learning conversations are based on the following four rules:

Rule One: Pay Attention to What Kind of Conversation Is Occurring

We miscommunicate when we are having different kinds of conversations. “Effective communication requires recognizing what kind of conversation is occurring, and then matching each other.” When we connect with others, it is because our brains have come into a kind of alignment. When we dominate a conversation, we make it difficult for others to sync up; they become pushed into their own thoughts.

Three Conversations

Effective communication requires recognizing what kind of conversation is occurring, and then matching each other.

Characteristics of Supercommunicators:

  • They tend to ask ten to twenty times as many questions
  • They constantly adjust how they communicated in order to match their partner

Rule Two: Share Your Goals and Ask What Others Are Seeking

Every meaningful conversation begins as a negotiation about what this conversation is to achieve and how it’s going to go or how we’ll make choices together.

Matching is understanding someone’s mindset—what kind of logic they find persuasive, what tone and approach makes sense to them—and then speaking their language. And it requires explaining clearly how we, ourselves, are thinking and making choices, so that others can match us in return.

Rule Three: Ask About Others’ Feelings, And Share Your Own

Emotions are a part of nearly all conversations if we choose to acknowledge it. When we do acknowledge it—their emotion, their vulnerability—and are vulnerable in return, we build trust, understanding, and connection. You begin by asking someone how they feel about their life as opposed to the facts of their life.

Margaret Clark, the Yale psychologist, said, “The best listeners aren’t just listening. They’re triggering emotions by asking questions, expressing their own emotions, doing things that prompt the other person to say something real.”

Laughter is one of proving that we hear how someone feels. We exhibit emotional intelligence by showing people that we’ve heard their emotions-and the way we do that is by noticing, and matching, their mood and energy. When we match or acknowledge another person’s mood and energy, we show them that we want to understand their emotional life. It’s a form of generosity that becomes empathy. It makes it easier to discuss How Do We Feel?

Acknowledging emotions is critical when dealing with conflict. If you don’t get to the emotions, you’ll never know what the fight is actually about. “This is the real reason why so many conflicts persist: Not because of a lack of solutions or because people are unwilling to compromise, but because combatants don’t understand why they are fighting in the first place. They haven’t discussed the deeper topics—the emotional issues—that are inflaming the dispute.”

Conflict Looping

Lessons from Martial Conflict

Nearly all couples fight from time to time. And whether happy or unhappy, they tend to fight about the same things. For the most part it comes down to control issues. Consider these findings:

Researchers noticed that many divorces happened after major life changes, in part because these changes had triggered a sense of losing control. It might be an illness—control over our health—or a big upheaval as retirement or kids leaving for college, which makes the future seem less predictable. These shifts made people exhausted, lonely, anxious, as if they had lost agency over their days and bodies and minds.

But happy and unhappy couples, the scientists saw, sought to assert control in very different ways. Among unhappy couples, the impulse for control often expressed itself as an attempt to control the other person.

Among happy couples, however, the desire for control emerged quite differently. Rather than trying to control the other person, happy couples tended to focus, instead, on controlling themselves, their environment, and the conflict itself. Happy couples, for instance, spent a lot of time controlling their own emotions. Happy couples also focused on controlling their environment. Finally, happy couples seemed to concentrate more on controlling the boundaries of the conflict itself.

One advantage of focusing on these three things-controlling oneself, the environment, and the boundaries of the conflict—is that it allowed happy spouses to find things they could control together.

Lesson: Share control.

Good thought: “It’s a complicated world, you know? You need friends who are different if you want to figure it out?

Rule Four: Explore If Identities Are Important to This Discussion

Our social identities shape how we speak and how we hear. In crucial conversations, we often get locked in on one identity. But we possess multiple identities so we need to look for identities we have in common.

In a Who Are We? conversation, we sometimes latch onto a single identity: I am your parent or I am the teacher or I am the boss. In doing so, though, we hobble ourselves, because we start to see the world only through that one lens. We forget that we are all complex and that, if we were thinking like parents instead of doctors, we might also ask skeptical questions about the drugs a stranger wants to inject into our kids. We might remember that asking questions is what good parents are supposed to do.

So, in a Who Are We? conversation, we need to begin by drawing out our conversational partners’ multiple identities. Second, we need to put everyone on equal footing. “Don’t offer unsolicited advice or trumpet your wealth or connections. Seek out topics where everyone has some experience and knowledge, or everyone is a novice.” Finally, look for similarities and create new groups by building on existing identities.

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Possible Power of Habit

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:09 PM
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05.09.24

Leading Thoughts for May 9, 2024

Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:

I.

Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal on organizational politics:

“Leaders need friends and allies to get things done. To sew up support, they need to build coalitions. Rationalists and romantics sometimes react with horror to this scenario. Why should you have to play political games to get something accepted if it’s the right thing to do? One of the classics of French drama, Molière’s The Misanthrope, tells the story of a protagonist whose rigid rejection of all things political is destructive for him and everyone involved. The point that Molière made four centuries ago still holds: it is hard to dislike politics without also disliking people. Like it or not, political dynamics are inevitable under three conditions most managers face every day: ambiguity, diversity, and scarcity.”

Source: How Great Leaders Think: The Art of Reframing

II.

Biologist John Medina on sleep:

“Sleep loss means mind loss. Sleep loss cripples thinking in just about every way you can measure thinking. Sleep loss hurts attention, executive function, immediate memory, working memory, mood, quantitative skills, logical reasoning ability, and general math knowledge. Eventually, sleep loss affects manual dexterity, including fine motor control and even gross motor movements, such as the ability to walk on a treadmill.”

Source: Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School

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Leading Thoughts Whats New in Leadership Books

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05.06.24

Deploying AI Requires Understanding What’s Both Possible and Practical

Deploying AI

THE vast majority of today’s business leaders are either embarking on AI deployment to improve their operations or are considering it. Some 83 percent of organizations worldwide claim AI is a top priority for their business. The expansive growth of AI isn’t just a trend but a fundamental shift to the business ecosystem. The simple truth is if you don’t update your business processes to reap the rewards of growth, quality, or both that AI brings, your competitor will. It’s only a matter of time.

Although most C-suite executives, mid-level managers, and data practitioners aren’t AI experts — no one is at this pace of change — they shouldn’t implement AI for the sake of implementing AI. Deploying AI requires a clear understanding of what’s both possible and practical.

The business case for AI is that it can help you accelerate, facilitate, and amplify workloads and processes with better consistency and quality.

Consider these findings:

  • AI has proven to improve the productivity of 61 percent of employees. For example, agents who use AI can handle nearly 14 percent more customer inquiries per hour.
  • Some 54 percent of organizations say AI has been cost-effective for their business operations. Netflix, for example, claims to have saved more than $1 billion annually using machine learning.
  • Organizations can do more with less. They are now working smarter, not harder.

Just as email transformed communication and iPhones and apps created widespread connectivity, AI is reshaping everything from healthcare to education to manufacturing to travel. In time, no industry will remain untouched. The surge of AI can be attributed to a convergence of three key factors: ground-breaking algorithms, data explosion, and enhanced computing power. Together, they’ve created a tipping point for AI.

Singling out just one segment of industry, consider some of the ways retailers are putting AI to use: Every interaction online is analyzed to better understand customer’s shopping patterns, click-throughs, and page views. The system deterministically maps their preferences in order to provide relevant product recommendations. Chatbots provide customer service 24/7 without the need for human staff. Meanwhile, Crawlers and Bots scour the web and analyze customer reviews, competition, and social sentiment. This information guides retailers to align their offerings with emerging trends.

Embarking on your own AI journey

While your goal is to be innovative, relevant, competitive, and forward-looking, your approach should be to bend but not break your team and your operations. In order to be smart in your approach to an AI project, start with a strategy that you can realistically deploy.

Use the principle of “thinking big, starting small, and scaling quickly.” I learned this principle when helping clients brainstorm how best to leverage AI within their operations. I quickly came to recognize that executives and stakeholders knew how to think big, but they also wanted to start big without thinking through the risk implications.

  1. Thinking big - This is all about the art of the possible — embracing opportunities and imagining the possibilities. Envision the possibilities for your business and uncover ways to enhance them as you reclaim valuable time, maximize savings, and channel energy toward tasks and activities that give back. Don’t let restraints, resources, and funding hold you back. Just think about possibilities.
  2. Starting small - Imagine you’re a budding gardener testing your green thumb. Would you start with landscaping and planting an entire garden or nurturing a small spot first? This strategy is all about being realistic with what’s feasible and considering the practicalities of your business landscape to minimize risks, squandered money, and wasted time. By starting small, a use case that suits your organizational maturity and recourse, you gain firsthand experience with the processes, learn valuable lessons, and set yourself up for success on a grander scale.
  3. Scaling quickly - In the pursuit of innovation, thinking big is about laying the foundation of bigger things, starting small is about mitigating risk by only biting off what you can chew, and scaling quickly is about commitment. When transitioning to scaling, avoid analysis paralysis at all costs. As leaders, being decisive is paramount. After you’ve evaluated the output, looked at the data, and measured the business benefits, make the decision to either productionize your Proof of Concept into full-scale production, or pivot towards a new use case. This time period is critical as it signals your intentions to your team. The objective is to avoid decisional stagnation in pursuit of rapid and informed action.

AI isn’t just a trend but a fundamental shift touching every aspect of our lives and the broader business ecosystem. If you haven’t already, it’s time to explore how to embark on your AI journey that will catapult your organization toward a promising future.

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Leading Forum
Sol Rashidi is an esteemed executive, leader, and influencer within the AI, data, and technology space, having helped IBM launch Watson back in 2011, and has been doing “hands-on” AI deployments since. She’s held numerous C-Suite roles and has been named 50 Most Powerful Women in Tech, Top 100 Innovators in Data & Analytics, CAO of the Year, CDO of the year, Global Data Power Women, and holds eight patents. Her new book The AI Survival Guide: Scraped Knees, Bruised Elbows, and Lessons from Real World AI Deployments made it to the bestseller list in less than one month. Learn more at solrashidi.com.

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Competing in the Age of AI Artificial Persuasion

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05.03.24

Leadership Vulnerability: A Personal Journey Through the Eye of the Storm

Leadership Vulnerability

IN THE HIGH-STAKES world of leadership, where every decision can be scrutinized and every failure magnified, the concept of vulnerability often takes on a negative connotation, especially among men, who are taught to equate emotional openness with weakness. Yet, if we delve deeper into the annals of history and the realms of effective leadership, a different narrative emerges—one where vulnerability is not a liability but a profound source of strength.

My own confrontation with vulnerability’s raw power came unexpectedly during a pivotal moment in my career. Tasked with addressing the top 400 leaders of Raytheon Corporation, a defense juggernaut, my inner turmoil was at its peak.

The recent passing of my father had left me emotionally bereft, a state further intensified by the daunting prospect of following luminaries such as General Stanley McChrystal and Jon Meacham. Standing before these distinguished leaders, my vulnerability was not just a shadow—it was my companion.

As I shared my insights, weaving through personal anecdotes of loss and resilience, the connection forged with the audience was palpable. Ultimately, the overwhelming reception to my address was a testament to the power of vulnerability in forging genuine human connections.

Harnessing Vulnerability: A Guide for Leaders

In the realm of leadership, where the pressure to perform and appear unflappable is relentless, allowing oneself to be vulnerable is an act of bravery. It breaks down barriers, fosters genuine connections, and cultivates an environment where innovation and loyalty can flourish. For emerging leaders aiming to chart a successful course, remember that vulnerability, wielded wisely, is not your Achilles’ heel but your strength —fortifying you face the world head-on.

  • Embrace Visibility: Brené Brown, a luminary in the study of vulnerability, posits that true leadership requires the courage to be seen, warts and all. It’s about dropping the facade and allowing your team to see you as human—capable but fallible. This transparency fosters trust and encourages others to be equally open, creating a culture of authenticity.
  • Solicit Support: The act of seeking help is often misinterpreted as a sign of weakness, yet it signifies the opposite. It’s a declaration of strength, signaling a leader’s awareness of their limitations and their willingness to learn and grow. This humility not only humanizes you it also strengthens the bonds within your team.
  • Navigate Vulnerability with Intent: Vulnerability should not be an unchecked floodgate of emotions. It’s about strategic openness with boundaries. Sharing personal stories or challenges should be purposeful, aimed at building connections or illustrating lessons, rather than seeking sympathy. It’s about leading not from a place of invulnerability but from the helm of authenticity, where acknowledging one’s limitations becomes a source of collective strength.
  • Lead with Empathy: Showing empathy is a powerful manifestation of vulnerability; it requires leaders to connect with their own experiences of challenge and uncertainty to relate to others. By genuinely understanding and sharing the feelings of another, leaders can create a deeply supportive culture. This connection not only humanizes the leader but also elevates the entire team’s morale and cohesion.
  • Cultivate a Culture of Open Dialogue: Teams thrive on clear and open communication. Leaders should encourage an environment where feedback flows freely in all directions. By being open to receiving feedback, leaders demonstrate vulnerability in action—showing they value growth and learning over maintaining an image of infallibility. This openness invites team members to share ideas and concerns without fear, fostering innovation and problem-solving.
  • Share Failures as Learning Opportunities: Acknowledging failure as an integral part of the learning process makes it easier for team members to embrace risks and innovate without the paralyzing fear of making mistakes. Leaders should share their past mistakes and the lessons learned from them. This not only demystifies the path to success it also encourages a growth mindset within the team.
  • Practice Self-Care and Encourage It Amongst Your Team: My study, State of Working America Report – Thriving in Resilience and Brilliance, found that 82% of working Americans think great leaders have to inspire resilience in those they lead. But how can leaders inspire resilience if they’re not practicing self-care themselves? Leaders must recognize the importance of their own well-being and set an example by practicing self-care. This might include acknowledging when they are under too much pressure, taking time off to recharge, or engaging in activities that nurture their mental and physical health. By doing so, leaders send a powerful message that taking care of oneself is not a sign of weakness but a critical aspect of sustaining performance and leadership over the long term.

Embracing Vulnerability

Incorporating these strategies into your leadership approach not only deepens your own practice of vulnerability, it sets a powerful example for your team. A leader who embraces vulnerability with intention and wisdom opens a path for their team that is marked by resilience, trust, and unparalleled success. Together, these practices transform vulnerability from a perceived weakness into the very cornerstone of strong, effective leadership.

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Leading Forum
Simon T. Bailey is the world’s leading expert in Brilliance. His groundbreaking research, State of Working America Report Thriving in Resilience and Brilliance, solidifies his insights in his 11th book, Resilience@Work: How to Coach Yourself Into a Thriving Future.

With Disney Institute as his launchpad, he’s left an indelible mark on 2,400 plus organizations in 54 countries, including American Express, Deloitte, Visa, Signet Jewelers, and Taco Bell. He has made a remarkable impact on 120,000 professionals who’ve experienced his pioneering courses on the LinkedIn Learning platform. He’s also been recognized as Success Magazine’s Top 25, alongside Brené Brown, Tony Robbins, and Oprah Winfrey, as well as being on leadersHum Top 200 Power List. His viral video, released on Goalcast through META, has over 91 million plus views to date. Learn more at simontbailey.com.

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