“Being open doesn’t make you weak. It’s honest.
A good leader is being what you need to be when you need to be it:
Strong, merciless, vulnerable.”
~ Bo, played by Anna Silk, Lost Girl,
“Big in Japan,” Season 5, Episode 3
What this quote means to women entrepreneurs:
What makes a good leader? In an article in Forbes, which lists 10 qualities of a great leader, the first quality listed is honesty. They were referring to integrity and ethics, but I think a touch of vulnerability can be incorporated into that, as well.
In a previous post, I talked about the six qualities of a hero that Frank Farley, PhD, identified. One of them was honesty. “We like our heroes to be honest,” he said.
This is true of leaders, as well, for leaders often are our heroes.
But what does honesty mean? Does it mean that we tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth all the time? Can you be an honest leader while keeping some of your less-than-shiny bits hidden away and private?
I’d say yes … but with qualifications.
Don’t hide everything so that you appear perfect. Perfection is suspicious. Let some of your cracks show, but be strategic about the unveiling of them. Ask yourself does this serve my team/followers/audience to know this flaw about me? If yes, then by all means be vulnerable and share.
However, I believe, if sharing a specific flaw will prevent your team/followers/audience from benefiting from your message or working with you, it might be wise to refrain from sharing.
For example, sharing my back story of surviving domestic violence often helps the people I serve relate to me and learn from my experience. Am I proud that I got into that situation? Hell no! I wish I’d never experienced it on the one hand, but I also understand that the experience has made me stronger and able to help more people.
But, lets say that I have a quality that I’m ashamed of, maybe I have horrible acne that I have to cover up with thick coats of makeup. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with that particular quality … I know lots of people who suffer from acne that are perfectly wonderful people. However, does it serve my particular team/followers/audience to share that bit of information?
No, it doesn’t. So, I wouldn’t. However, if there came a time where it did serve them, I would share it in a heart beat.
Strategic, honest vulnerability that is used to serve and support the people you were meant to serve and support, helping lift them up, is a quality of good leaders. Just as much as the qualities of strength and appropriate mercilessness.
Now It’s Your Turn:
Do you agree with my interpretation of today’s quote? Why or why not? What are your thoughts on vulnerability? How do you use vulnerability in your business? How have you created balance between honesty and privacy in your business? Please share your ideas, experiences and sage wisdom in a comment below.