We are all wired a bit differently. That is a good thing, especially as leaders in business or community. However, it becomes purposeful only when we take stock of our own strengths and weaknesses. In other words, when we are vulnerable.
When was the last time you took stock of your vulnerabilities and accepted them?
Let me share one of my favorite Bible stories to illustrate how practical this was for the leader of the Hebrew nation. Then, we can apply the lessons to our present-day experiences.
Moses was secretly a Hebrew groomed as an Egyptian leader responsible for overseeing the building of an empire using slave labor. His passionate acts of advocacy for his enslaved kinsmen was met with rejection from his people, driving him into a wilderness of self-doubt and shame. However, at the burning bush encounter, Moses got instructions from God to advocate for his people before the Pharaoh and tell him to let his people go.
However, Moses’ new awareness of self and his calling in the wilderness helped him realize that he needed help this time – and he asked for it. Aaron was appointed to help communicate what I would see as a skilled diplomat to complement Moses for the journey ahead. Later we even see how Aaron’s strengths in diplomacy became his weakness as he tries to appease the Hebrews who became impatient and wanted to follow after their idols rather than trusting Yahweh.
The good news common to us all is that being aware of our vulnerabilities can have a purpose.
When we are more self-aware of both our strengths and weaknesses, we are more likely to know what to ask for from those around us. But we have to be willing to be vulnerable.
In the context of teams and leadership, there are many examples of how this can apply:
- You get promoted to a new role and discover you may not have all the skills or experience, but are afraid of admitting it. This can be devastating for our customers, our co-workers and ourselves.
- You’re a business owner who is supposed to know everything about running a business and things grow beyond your skill sets and abilities.
- You’re a community leader with a vision for a better future and followers depend upon your guidance, but you’ve lost your way, passion or purpose.
I’ve actually lived out all of these scenarios in both my business and community lives. I’ve had to learn to be more vulnerable and seek out help from others.
The benefits of being vulnerable are reflected in what people often say they want from their leaders: to be open-minded, authentic, and supportive. This can show up when leaders share what they are thinking, even if it is that they “don’t know” or “ don’t have it all figured out,” which may seem weak.
Coupled with a healthy culture and mindset that everyone can contribute their ideas, skills to address a challenge, this authentic vulnerability among a team can be a strength and can engender a commitment to teamwork.
Can you think of other practical benefits of being vulnerable with your employees or teammates?
In our ever-changing world filled with uncertainties and challenges, teams need vulnerable individuals who can recognize their weaknesses; those who can ask for and recruit help from others. Teams are now being formed by intentionally seeking individuals from different disciplines who can work together as an agile cohesive group to solve problems faster.
I encourage you to reflect, to look at the lessons from your life, and take steps to be more self-aware of your vulnerabilities. Talk it out with a trusted friend, mentor (or me as your coach) to create a mindset and take action steps towards your own purpose.
In my personal faith experience, I take comfort in knowing “when I am weak, God is strong;” typically through other people who help me or by other means that I never could have imagined!
Stay vulnerable my friends.