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The Secret To Success - 1 Ingredient

There is a secret ingredient that breeds success. It's like an agar for growing the strongest and healthiest of companies. The problem is that so many businesses and leaders ignore it or falsely think they have it. Without out it everyone's job becomes infinitely harder, more complex and just...not fun!

Vulnerability, that's the key. It may not be what you were expecting, but it is the base to any success you are looking for. The definition of vulnerability "the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally." You have to have your defenses up to protect yourself from attack, you cannot be vulnerable or you could get hurt. That makes a lot of sense in many situations, but in the business world it creates problems, real big ones. No really, it causes lots of issues for so many people and organizations.

  1. It destroys authenticity. You cannot be 100% authentic if you are worried about what is or could be said. You may say you can be authentic to your team but you cannot be authentic to other teams because they could use the information you provide against you. While that may be true it represents an issue of vulnerability that needs to change and worst of all its part of the culture. Only being authentic some of the time slowly breaks down that authenticity and you will have more holes then you care to admit.
  2. Not being vulnerable breeds issues with culture. In the above example it highlights the issues, teams are on the lookout for attacks from outside teams. That creates silos, silos breed misalignment and ineffective communication. It a self fulfilling prophecy that destroys cultures and with it morale.
  3. It creates a CYA culture. I think we can all agree a CYA culture is not healthy. There are so many problems with that type of culture millions of books have been written about it.

Those are just a few example of problems created by not being vulnerable, or creating a culture where vulnerability is ok and encouraged. The root of it all is when people aren't allowing vulnerability they put up defenses. They range in severity and that isn't the point, the fact that they exist create challenges.

Look at the synonyms of vulnerable; accessible, ready, sensitive. When we are open to be vulnerable we drop our defences and allow us to be real with others. That invites all the other aspects of success, most importantly the ability to learn. There are many leaders that proudly state that they have an open door policy. But how many of their teams would be comfortable going into that leader's office and tell them something they don't like. That could be something about their leadership style or actions. If that leader isn't ready to be vulnerable they will be defencive to that feedback. As a result the team would never think of telling the leader how they really feel. That limits the amount of growth that leader can achieve. Without authentic feedback we cannot work on our greatest faults, those we don't see.

When we zoom out to include how teams or divisions interact with one another the problems get worse. Not being vulnerable breeds CYA, silos, them vs us. That creates a negative culture, politics and just general negativity. Leaders need to have a reliable and fanatical focus on creating an environment that support being vulnerable.

  • Encourage and celebrate mistakes that are manageable and managed. Openly discuss mistakes that aren't in a positive growth oriented way. Every leadership needs to be involved in that message. At first this is a lot of hard work and heavy lifting. But once the seeds of being vulnerable take hold, the burden lessens.
  • Identify leaders that have limited capacity to be vulnerable. This is big, very big. A leaders potential is exponentially limited based on how vulnerable they are willing to be. Leaders that admit mistakes, encourage open, honest and authentic discussions should be groomed for greater responsibilities. Those leaders that cannot be vulnerable should attend training or coaching lessons. If that doesn't work, hard decisions have to be made about their future.
  • Read emails and talk to people. Many companies think they encourage vulnerability but in reality it's just a facade. Leaders need to engage people and read emails to determine how vulnerable people are bring and how authentic the itneracts are. Vulnerability is more than just a plaque on a wall, its in everyone's actions.

The greatest moments I have as a coach is when people have an epiphany about how vulnerable they are being. Most of us don't truly realize how many defences we erect to protect ourselves. We live with them for so long they are like breathing, just there and something we do. Its critical that you identify your defences and break them down, they directly limit you leadership potential.

At Big Box Coaching we specialize in helping leaders grow their box. The box we all create that limits our potential by creating artificial walls to our success. Whether it is not being vulnerable, authentic, poor time management, communication skills, etc we can help you grow. Schedule an appointment with one of our coaches today and see how we can help you, your business, even your teams grow.

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