Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Vulnerability in Leadership

I grew up watching John Wayne, the strong, loner, rugged, ideal American leader. He embodied what many would consider a leader today with strong character, bravery, makes quick decisions, assertiveness, and courage. Did I mention I was John Wayne for Halloween 10 years in a row. I also have a life size cutout in my office.
We miss the boat on leadership though when we only focus on this heroic model of leadership. True leaders are vulnerable. Vulnerability is one of the most underused tools in a leaders tool box. Let me explain. The job of a leader is to empower their followers and create the most positive environment for productivity possible. This is the intangible part of success. Company morale is a nebulous yet crucial component to a leader effectiveness. When people feel comfortable and confident they are more productive. When they are anxious, afraid, or under attack, they are less productive. In all the teams I have managed, I have seen leaders that put a wall between themselves and their followers. It is an us and them mentality. There is a hierarchy here that you can not cross. There are definitely and should be boundaries in relationships but that's not what I'm talking about. This is a relational hierarchy. There is a lack of vulnerability. The best teams are intimately connected. Soldiers fight for their new brothers beside them, sports teams that are successful have relationships that go far beyond the field of play, and the Trinity is the best example. The best teams I've been apart of we cared deeply for one another. You fight harder, play harder, and deal with one another in a different way when those bonds are strong. Vulnerability breeds intimacy in a safe environment. When you share your struggles, fears, concerns, with some one else they have two responses. They can humiliate or use that information against you, or they can support and show compassion. When a team chooses the latter, it is like super glue and instant relational credibility amongst one another. It has to be a safe environment. The fastest way to tear a team apart though, is for some one to choose to be vulnerable and then get hurt because of it. If there is not trust, support, and compassion on the team, it will destroy the team like a hand grenade. As a leader you must do two things; 1. Create an environment of trust and support on the teams you lead. This is done by example, by confronting inappropriate behavior immediately, and encouragement and support. 2. Take the first step. It is scary and difficult for some of us to let those around us in on how we're feeling. I grew up in a home with four males, and a mom with not as much compassion as others. We don't talk about our feelings much. However I know I can set the example for my teams if I open the door. Don't cross boundaries. Don't share things inappropriate personally or professionally. Let them into your world though. There is a scene in Big Jake, with John Wayne. He is in the gun battle that ensues after he is rescuing his kidnapped grandson. As bullets are flying and John Wayne has a wound in his leg, the boy sits next to Wayne and says, "I'm scared". John Wayne replies with, "Me too", and the boy huddles into his chest.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thoughts from a camp counselor

Hey check out one of our camp counselor's blogs here! It's great. Things at camp are going crazy right now. Family Camp is awesome!