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Leading Authentically Through Vulnerability

During my first year working for Leadership Inspirations, as a Junior Coach, the most vibrant thing I learned was the importance of vulnerability. Vulnerability, by definition, is being exposed to the possibility of harm. This can be any kind of harm, from emotional to physical, but at the end of the day, it’s still scary. In terms of leadership, and everyday life, vulnerability can be so beneficial, though. Vulnerability directly pushes us to face fear and push past the uneasy possibility of an unexpected reaction. 

When having conversations with anyone, whether that be your partner, friend, boss, teacher, or coworker, it’s important to remember how much more beneficial conversations will be when you approach them with a sense of vulnerability and also a sense of empathy for the other person. Vulnerability is courageous and puts us in a situation where we are letting our guard down. Ask yourself: “What do I need right now?”

A quite simple, yet effective, example of vulnerability is that of asking your teacher or boss for an extension on a deadline. Let’s say you’ve had a hard week and focusing on your mental health has not been a priority, but that needs to happen because you are worn out. Be communicative! As individuals, we always want to put our best foot forward, but it’s hard to do so when we’ve had a draining time. Asking for an extension with the intention of setting yourself up to put your best foot forward is probably more beneficial than overworking yourself, putting forward a piece of work you are not necessarily ready to present, and overall creating a downward spiral.

Having this tool of vulnerability enables you to boost your emotional intelligence, as well as mental wellness. You know you are taking care of yourself in the same way you are presenting yourself to others. For me, finding my true self through being vulnerable has been an entire process and I am still constantly learning. At the end of the day, though, I know I can be content with the way I am presenting myself, as it is truly who I am – and others know that.

As a leader, it’s important to have this mindset. Leading with authenticity creates a whole new community among you and your team. Leading with vulnerability includes being aware of your faults, communicating thoroughly, and respecting the opinions and contributions of all and genuinely caring about those around you. With vulnerability, I wholeheartedly believe that you get what you give. If you are vulnerable, you are building mutual trust with your team and, most times, it is reciprocated into a mutual space of understanding and respect. Vulnerability leads to effective and communicative conversation; an open space to discuss. In my experiences in classes and in work, when leaders begin anything with a statement of their own vulnerability, it automatically brings the stress level in the room much lower, as it creates an overarching sense of respect for one another. It helps us all understand that no matter where we are and what we are doing, we are all people. And through this, trust is built. 

But why is trust so important? Trust creates mutually beneficial relationships and establishes the notion of genuine care for one another’s well being. Trust creates an environment set to thrive because of proper communication and understanding. This is why vulnerability is important, and I urge you to live with intentionality, bringing vulnerability and empathy wherever you go.



*Meet the Author*

CaelanCooney

Zz has been with Leadership Inspirations for about 2 years. They are currently studying Psychology, Public Affairs, and Education Studies at UCLA.

Favorite Quote: And your very flesh shall be with great poem.” – Walt Whitman

Fun Facts: 1) I love art and painting 2) I love cheese but am lactose intolerant 3) My favorite food is tacos!

Pronouns: They/She