Why being vulnerable is the most powerful leadership tool you have

A few weeks ago I watched as a leader that I greatly respect cast a vision of the future.

As he laid out his plan, I made eye contact with the individual sitting across from me. He seemed to squirm, and then, held the glance a bit longer than normal. I quickly looked away, trying to observe the reaction of the rest of the team. Everyone seemed a bit uncomfortable.

As the conversation moved on, the room seemed to become more awkward and the leader seemed to become less confident. A couple of times he stumbled over his words. After a period of time that seemed longer than it really was, he wrapped up his presentation and asked for feedback.

That’s when the bomb dropped.

The Most Powerful Leadership Tool - David DeWolf

His plan had gone over like a lead balloon. Many in the room were quick to point out the flaws. It was obvious that this leader was out of touch with his team, something quite extraordinary for a leader known for the opposite.

Over the course of the next 24 hours I had the opportunity to watch as this leader picked up the pieces, and, I can honestly say that I have even more respect for him now, than I ever did before. I learned more from this leader in his weakness than I did from watching his successes over the years.

Leadership credibility is not about never making a mistake. It’s about how you respond to adversity. True leaders demonstrate humility, integrity, and character in trying times. They listen and adjust when they get it wrong.

How about you? Are you willing to be vulnerable? Are you willing to show weakness? Can you admit when you get it wrong?


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