Engine Room Business Innovation

Vulnerability

Promotions and Self Esteem

My first career was in the Air Force.  It is a hierarchal organisation which has many ‘rungs to climb’.  I loved the structure, sense of purpose and impressive leadership.  I also loved the clarity of knowing what the hierarchy was – where you were positioned in the organisational structure.

Promotions were a very significant moment – it was a moment of acknowledgement and celebration.  Not only did you feel appreciated by the organisation in which you belonged, but it also sent a clear message to everyone, such as family and friends, of your ‘worth’.  Yes promotions fuelled the self esteem big time.

Ego 

Yes, “ego is not a dirty word.” Skyhooks

My eldest son is studying neuroscience and in a recent conversation I rationalised a client’s defensiveness by saying “of course they were naturally defending their ego.”  My son responded, “no they were defending their self esteem with their ego.  The ego is the ‘razor wire’ that springs up around our self esteem to protect it.

This prompted some further discussion and deep thought on my behalf.

Vulnerability 

I’m always impressed by people who don’t spring the ‘razor wire’ and instead show vulnerability – that is, they leave their self esteem somewhat exposed.  

I see courage and strength when someone shows vulnerability.  I nearly always witness at these times significant learning and growth – both in the author of the narrative, and in their audience.

I also witness a deepening of connection and the building of trust.

Recently, I experienced this on two separate occasions.  Both in very different industries in which the businesses are growing fast with associated stresses and strains. The business owners in both situations showed great vulnerability – they expressed to their leadership team that they did not have the answers; which was why the business now found itself with some challenges.  They then asked the team to help them find the answers to enable the business to move forward. 

This display of vulnerability was a game changer.  As it shifted the mindsets of the leadership team from stress and despair (of facing more of the same), to one of positivity and hope (of moving to a better future).

“Everyday look for an opportunity to say ‘I don’t know’.” David Marquet

If you lead by example, with vulnerability, and often say “I don’t know”, your team will feel safe to do likewise.  This opens up the conversation for learning together … experimenting … failing fast, moving forward to find a better way … innovation sparks, improvements occur … more autonomy can be given … a positive, constructive culture grows.  Yes, vulnerability is a powerful force.  It promotes curiosity and learning.  Ingredients for developing and driving a high performing team. 

High-Performing Leadership Team 

I have been coaching businesses for decades and my observation of the main ‘ingredient’ required for a business to grow beyond the ‘mid-sized’ range, or to enable the business owner to confidently ’step back’ (and focus on the elements that energise them), is a high-performing leadership team

This is a team of ‘high-potentials’, who show vulnerability and build trust to work collaboratively on priorities that keep the business ‘ahead of the curve’. This is a team of ‘Change Leaders’. 

So, how do you learn how to create a high-performing leadership team?  

Well, there is a spectrum of options. At one end of the spectrum is leading from behind a ring of ‘razor wire’. Whilst at the other end of the spectrum is the Leadership Acceleration Program

The Leadership Acceleration Program will enable you to examine and develop your leadership style, as it will provide you with knowledge, case studies, methodologies, 4 assessments + development plans, and 50+ tools. Provided via a blended learning model – which includes a Learning Management System, workshops, onsite assessment sessions, virtual coaching sessions, ‘deep diving’ sessions with participants, and more. 

By Glenn Taylor

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