Are Leaders ‘Vulnerable’?

This post is also available in: العربية (Arabic)

Here’s the quote I want to share with you this week:

“My challenge was that I felt a personal vulnerability. Once I got over that, so much changed.”

Mona Almagboul, Team Leader, Zain Sudan

So let me tell you about Mona. Mona was on a five day Leadership Challenge program I conducted in Sudan. She was one of 240 staff members from one company in Sudan there who went through this program.

I could see in the workshop how much what we talked about connected to Mona.

I re-connected with Mona around 12 months after the workshop as I wanted to find out what sort of difference she was making – and how much The Leadership Challenge had impacted on her after 12 months.

Mona had just returned from a 4 week break when I spoke to her. She said she wouldn’t have been able to take that break if she hadn’t built the relationship with her team as she had done and if she hadn’t developed the level of trust she had. Enabling Others to Act, the 4th of the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership.

“They don’t need me any more” was her reaction to how the team are working now.

But when I asked her shat she found most challenging in her journey of growth, she referred to her personal feeling of vulnerability.

And vulnerability – at a personal level – is something that many managers and aspiring leaders feel. Her recognition of that sense of vulnerability is a starting point in her move forward.

We all feel a sense of vulnerability at some stage and once we recognize that and then believe in what we’re doing, believe  -0 and know that we’re on the right course, then we can make some positive, impactful change.

It doesn’t mean that we’ll never feel vulnerable in future, but it reduces the chances and allows each of us to become more empowered as we move forward.

I know Mona is doing really well as a leader.  I was inspired when she shared her Vision for where she’s taking her team – and `I’m sure her team was inspired, too.

But that admission of ‘vulnerability’ is important. It’s not a weakness

Seizing the Initiative

This post is also available in: العربية (Arabic)

The third of the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership is Challenge the Process.

I remember some years ago – well, ok over 20 – that I was always asking people to look for better ways to do things. I know that in the area in which we worked – and specifically the ‘division’ I’ll call it, that I was leading, we devised a new process in in the industry we were working in. We even had people from Hong Kong from the same industry, coming to look at what were we doing so they could take it on for themselves.

What that was, has for many years been the ‘operating standard’ and has, of course been refined and developed further – and will continue to be so developed and refined.

That’s what leaders do ! Looking for better ways to do things.

Let’s look at the word ‘initiative’.  The dictionary definition I like is ‘The power or opportunity to act or take charge before others do’

For some people, this is a challenge in itself. So often – for a range of reasons – people want to stay in their area of most comfort.

In the workplace environment, people can become conditioned not to challenge what we refer to as the status quo – the things that represent the ‘normal, the ‘existing’ processes and circumstances.

And often the reasons for this are directly related to the environment they operate in:

People resist change. The manager doesn’t want change. It’s worked for a long time so why change it. When I suggest a different way of doing things, people either simply say no, or won’t even try. So why bother, is the attitude.

Taking initiative, seizing the opportunity, looking for another, better way is absolutely the way forward.