WOW Word-Of-the-Week #354: Vulnerable

May 16, 2011 by  

Vulnerable – susceptible to criticism; open to constructive feedback.

How receptive are you to constructive feedback? Do you automatically become defensive? Have you ever viewed criticism as positive?

This week I am going share another excerpt from Chris’ book. In the section on Integrity he writes, “The term “courageous authenticity” was coined at our Advanced Management Program. Courageous authenticity means speaking directly even on controversial issues. It means having the courage to surface issues others are reluctant to talk about. It means being bold in meetings.”

About Leaders being vulnerable: Admitting mistakes publicly makes you a better person in the eyes of others. After all, we all make errors but too many of us have such a large ego that we go on as if it was a good idea and I’m sticking to it or hope it will eventually be forgotten. President Obama recognized that the appointment of Tom Daschle (former U.S. Senator from South Dakota) was a mistake and said publicly, ‘I screwed up!’ Admit the error then move on and take a different course.”

I have had lots of contact with managers, supervisors, and executives over the course of my career. And what I found was, the ones who were vulnerable were much more effective. They seemed “real” and approachable to me. They didn’t have large egos and were willing to listen. They were open to constructive feedback. Despite what you think, being vulnerable is much more powerful than being forceful or attached to only your way of thinking.

This week focus on how being vulnerable makes you feel. Are you comfortable addressing controversial issues? How easy is it to admit that you made an error? Are you willing to speak up even if it means you  may be criticized?

Reader Responses

“My bosses and co-workers can see my vulnerability in my face. But they don’t exploit it, they respect it. When I have made mistakes in the past, I have admitted them and gone on to make sure it does not happen again. I agree with the assertion that those who show their vulnerability are approachable. I know first hand that many people I work with are comfortable asking me questions or approaching me. Now, when it comes to confronting controversial issues, I usually work into it. I don’t go full speed ahead. When I am in a comfort level in a meeting, I will phrase whatever questions I have regarding the issue and then diplomatically make my point. As I gain more confidence in the future, I will probably be a little more forceful on those type of issues. In terms of vulnerability in the workplace, we are who we are. Usually, most of us put on our work faces. Because we don’t want to let our guard down it might be more difficult to show the vulnerability. But I have had no problem taking off the mask and just being myself. People around me are more comfortable with who I really am, And that makes me much more comfortable at work. Great word, again, Susan. Take care.” – “Warrior” Joe


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