Monday, January 31, 2011

How vulnerable are you?

Brene Brown does a remarkable job of explaining the importance of being vulnerable from the perspective of a social worker, but you can tell by her conversation that it is also about leading others. Watch the video and then join me for discussion below:

This video raises so many good questions for executives trying to lead others. It also complements the work of Willaim Schutz who introduced a theory of interpersonal relations he called Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation (FIRO). FIRO sought to explain most human interactiona as being our need for Inclusion, Control and Affection. Affection in his later years became also know as openness and could be another way of talking about one's capacity to be vulnerable. Are you open? What do you pretend at work?

The most profound statement in Brene's talk is the concept that one has to love and accept oneself... Love our vulnerabilties so that we can have joy and satifisfaction in our lives. The very act of diminishing our vulnerabilities leads us to ignore our joys as well. Translated to work world, environments where we fear being vulnerable and transparent teach us work behaviors that ultimately diminish our engagement with work. Work is most meaningful when we can be authentic in our role... show our warts and gifts at the same time. Think about it.. if you have to pretend at work.. your more likely to be disengaged. We also know you're more likely to distrust as well...

We know environments of fear and distrust are 1/3 as productive as trusting cultures. Job one for all executives... "how can you create a culture where your direct reports feel safe to be vulnerable?" Want a hint.. it starts with your own vulnerability...