Monday, 17 May 2021

Talking about vulnerabilities

Sharing my work and life openly and often in a vulnerable form is not unusual here.  I talk openly about my introversion, imposter syndrome, support I need, my 'slow learning', reflector/evaluator mind set etc.  So I consider myself a representative example of expressing vulnerability and a good person to talk about it.  It's a topic that is close to my heart.  In fact it is the strapline to my blog 'Beware of my openness!' - more about what that means in 'Why openness is good'.

Recently in my organisation we have been talking about vulnerabilities as a leadership/cultural approach.  But I don't think we have a common understanding of what it means to be, how to express it and the benefits it brings to other individuals, teams and the organisation. 

Below is a paper I wrote on the topic in an effort to get a real conversation flowing - something I touched on in the 'Lead wholeheartedly' section of my Dared to lead blog post.  Nobody had asked for this paper, it was something that I wanted to simply put out there and to start thinking about what we could do with it - is there a problem to be solved or just encourage the principles?  Anyway, this might be a useful nugget of information or be of comfort to some.

So after a conversation about this with a colleague to sense-check the paper, it allowed me to reflect on my intentions of it.  Therefore I have decided to shelve sharing the paper with my department for the time being.  I'm still learning about this topic, but I was hoping for it to lead into developing something pragmatic.  Overall the paper has done what I wanted at this stage; questioning existence and practicalities.  The following are some initial learning points I noted following the conversation I had:
  • Whilst my colleague acknowledged we've all experienced this at some point.  I do think it triggered something, positive or negative.  However, I don't think many know how to deal/challenge this though, hence the discussion paper
  • Interestingly it looks like it was sensitive issue/topic that I may have unconsciously wanted to get off my chest, in a gentle way
  • Many aspects of vulnerabilities are already present within the organisation, so there may be little need/importance/urgency to push it at the moment - being kept honest on the facts
  • The paper alone may not be enough for a discussion and the topic of vulnerabilities in isolation is not an ideal way forward.  It needs context; i.e. attached to organisational needs/developments
  • It may appear an academic piece, but lacks a variety of perspectives and conclusion.  So therefore, it ended up being a 'passion piece'/short research activity asserting my interest
  • Unclear what it should leave people thinking after reading it.  But hopefully it spurred on some thoughts

I sound a bit defeatist but am still positive in doing something with this.  So for now I have published it here, but like many of my pieces of work they do get used or repurposed somewhere along my journey.

EDIT:  BrenĂ© Brown shared this quote that I really resonate with, especially recognising others potential and being empathetic in developing them:

I define a leader as anyone who holds themselves responsible for finding the potential in people and processes, and has the courage to develop that potential.  It has nothing to do with titles or corner offices.  The toughest part of daring leadership is building a courageous culture where armor is neither required nor rewarded.