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A Lesson in Leadership: Strength in Vulnerability

lesson in leadership

“I think the leadership style I have is that I’ve never put myself above anyone else, and I’ve never asked more of anyone than I was willing to do myself.”~Howard Schultz, chairman, president, and CEO of Starbucks

More often than not, leaders get it in their heads that to command respect one must engage in a sort of chest-beating, know-it-all, voice-deeper-than-natural posturing that tends to nauseate the rest of us. If nothing else, we begin to question the true capabilities of someone who puts on such a “show of strength”. We wonder what, exactly, are they hiding? Because nobody is perfect and no one holds all the answers. And nobody is interested in following a one-dimensional machine.

In a recent article for the NY Times, Howard Schultz said it best. When asked what advice he would give somebody who’s about to become a CEO, he replied:

“For whatever reason, people believe that when they get to that spot, they have to know everything. They’ve got to be in total control, and you can never show weakness. I would say one of the underlying strengths of a great leader and a great C.E.O. — not all the time but when appropriate — is to demonstrate vulnerability, because that will bring people closer to you and show people the human side of you.”

I would take this one step further and say that this advice applies to anyone on your team. I, for one, would much rather work in a culture where people were inclined to ask for help and receive it than one that fosters stoic isolation or, worse yet, ego-filled competition.

What is your comfort level with vulnerability?


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