Vulnerability refines your character in leadership when… by Travis Waits

Vulnerability refines our character only when we choose to do the gut wrenching work growth requires. Pain, consequences, heartache, loss all are precipitators of the beginning journey of risking by being vulnerable. However, no one forces us. We choose to grow. Rarely do leaders ever choose this on their own accord. But when it comes, it proposes a great opportunity to be refined and leveraged for impact.

Vulnerability is a buzz word that has become popular in leadership circles lately. Vulnerability is the capacity to “be seen” and our unspoken culture of leadership ethic severely inhibits vulnerability of our leaders. The cost is just too high. Authenticity is sometimes used interchangeably with vulnerability, they are different. If vulnerability is our capacity to ‘be seen’ it is more about risking exposure of ourselves. The good, bad, and ugly. Authenticity is best described as “congruency” or what you see on the outside matches what is occurring on the inside. I described this process in my post about character conflicting with our ethics.

The cost for leaders to be vulnerable is high, and consequences steep. We apply a completely different standard to people in leadership positions, praising them for their relate-ability, yet crucifying them when their less-than-perfect humanity shows up. We should not be shocked. All we should do, is look in the mirror. The leaders I have learned the most from walk their talk, and more so, have shown me their scars as well as shared their process of growth.

I am leveraging my experience of growth that the character refining process of vulnerability has produced. It is still a journey, and I’m still paying consequences I never asked for. Some days are harder than others. But, the result of the refining, is worth it. Thanks for sharing your stories with me as we reshape the landscape of leadership.



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