Tag Archive for vulnerability

5 Reasons our Leadership Planning Session Rocked

officemscottThe exec team I’m privileged to work with had its strategic planning session over the past few days. Aside from fighting a stupid migraine both days, I thought it was a cool experience. Sean McDonald facilitated for us, and he did great.

Why am I mentioning this session? I mean, unless you’re a Mazuman, why would you care? There were some things that I really appreciated at this session. They were the sort of things you’d want to see from a team of humans working together toward some pretty ambitious goals.

1. Culture was a huge part of the conversation.

And not just one conversation. It came up over and over and over again, and it wasn’t confined to conversations where culture was the main topic. It was awesome to see a group of people pressing a lot of other decisions — operations, etc — through the filter of the culture our organization is working slowly but surely to build.

2. Togetherness

There’s something about going away from the office for a session like this. As our CEO mentioned while we were there, it’s important for teams to know each other, not just as fellow execs, but as humans.

130207170822-the-office-nbc-story-top3. We were able to just “be.”

How often can you let your guard down a bit and just “be” as you’re together with others sharing your passion. Hearing my teammates’ different thoughts and ideas was inspiring. Even when my migraine had me holding onto my chair in an effort to make the room stop spinning, it was clear that people were opening up, being vulnerable, having honest (and potentially uncomfortable) conversations, and so on. It’s moments like those — even the smallest moments — that can be amazing.

4. People disagreed.

And it was OK. This wasn’t a “nod and smile” meeting where every sat around the table with Stepford-esque smiles plastered on their faces. Nope, there was open discussion and even debate of strategies and vision. That kind of thing is essential to a team’s success.

5. My teammates are wicked smart.

Like Good-Will-Hunting smart. I already knew this, but it’s always cool to see it in action. It wasn’t that they were smart because they agreed with my position on things; they were just ridiculously smart and creative and determined to make our organization all that it could be.

Why should you care? Seeing things like what I described above is such an encouragement because it another reminder of how teams can be if they decide to work hard, be vulnerable, care about culture, and be always looking and pushing forward.

If You’re a Perfect Leader, You’re Not

borderline WorldTeams, groups, organizations, churches, clubs, families, homeschooling groups, etc, don’t need perfect leaders. They need real, human, vulnerable ones. They need leaders who have faults and talk openly about them. Faults, after all, are part of our inherent humanness.

If you tell me you don’t have any real faults or flaws I’m telling you that you’re either entirely delusional or extremely dishonest with yourself and/or others. Or both. Aren’t many other options.

Stop chuckling. That can actually end up really, really, really badly for all involved. Don’t believe me? Well, there’s always jokers like this popping up all over the place. And that’s just in one tiny little snippet of the religious world that I happen to be a bit more familiar with than others.

But it happens all over the place.

There are few things more frustrating than being on a team with someone who perceives themselves to be flawless, or at least darn close to it. You know they’re not, yet somehow, on some weird level, you find yourself feeling somehow compelled to try to be as well. The problem is that you can’t be that perfect person. You don’t even really want the pressure of being that person.

But they (make you think they) are perfect, and they’re where (you think) you want to end up. So you figure that that’s got to be the way to do it. Cover those faults. Don’t let ‘em see you sweat. I mean, how can you expect them to respect and follow you if they see you make mistakes, after all? [for those of you less-versed in the classical language of smartassese, that's what that was.] If you’re the boss, you’re supposed to have all the answers, right? Right?

When was the last time you openly discussed a shortcoming you have with…well…anyone?

Those on your team? In your group or department at work? Within your organization? With your — gasp — boss?

If you’re straining to remember the last time, it’s been far too long.

I’ve had occasion over the past few months to speak with my boss about a particular shortcoming of mine on a number of occasions. I’ll admit that I was terrified the first time I walked into his office to bring it up for the first time.

You see, with this weakness, as with many, I generally have played it pretty close to the vest. I mean, it’s not like we’re all running around with huge placards tied around our necks listing what we perceive to be our greatest faults. (Although now that I’m thinking about it, that could be a fascinating sociological and psychological experiment on a number of levels.)

They’re hard to talk about. You don’t wake up dying to talk about that sort of stuff.

But what’s happened is that there’s been an atmosphere created on our exec team where it’s OK to share faults and talk about them openly. It’s OK to be vulnerable. We’re human, after all.

The only way that happens, though, is if leaders understand they’re not perfect, are vulnerable themselves, and intentionally make it safe enough for their teammates to do the same. It becomes safe for them to become more appropriately human. Then the office continues to inch closer to being a habitat for humans.


20 Things Leaders Should Say More

speech-bubbleIt’s not always some big, flowery, masterfully delivered declaration that teams need to hear from their leaders. Often it’s the little things–small phrases or statements that can change the tone and feel of your workplace environment.

Teams and leaders who are embracing their humanness and therefore working toward building vulnerability-based trust will undoubtedly even sound different from teams and leaders who aren’t.

What might that sound like? Here are some things leaders should say more:

1. I was wrong.

2. You’re right.

3. I need your help.

4. Great job.

5. Thank you.

6. Of course I have time to talk. Come on in.

7. I’m sorry. That was my fault.

8. No worries. Happens to the best of us.

9. Let me connect you with So-and-So. He/She is uniquely gifted in [that area your teammate is interested in].

10. Help me see what I’m missing in this situation.

11. I’d like to take a quick second to recognize So-and-So for [insert cool thing--big or small--they've done here].

12. I’d love to know your thoughts.

13. You know what? I actually have no idea about that.

14. I know you can do it.

15. I know we can do it.

16. That’s definitely not a strength of mine.

17. I’m glad we have so many different opinions.

18. I’ve got your back.

19. No, the customer isn’t always right and doesn’t get to yell at you.

20. Yes, you’re the customer; but in this case I stand behind my employee and have to ask you to stop speaking to them that way.

What others can you think of?