Many years ago, I hired in, selling vacuum cleaners, in homes. Within four weeks our office management and the owner asked me to take on the role of the sales trainer. Within the next six months, our office had more successful new salespeople than any other office in our nationwide company. In fact, we captured the award for the number one office in our division of a worldwide corporation. While at that time I still did not consider myself to be a “leader”, we had more people who came through our training classes who went on to successful sales and management careers than any other trainer in the organization. Was I an exceptionally great trainer? No, by no means. In my mind, I paled in comparison to those who trained me.
As I look back on those days and many since, I believe it was not my ability as much as my vulnerability that made a difference in so many lives. A vulnerability is considered the openness to expose one’s own weaknesses and susceptibility. In leadership ministry positions to this day, I try not to see myself as better or higher than anyone else. Actually, I see everyone as to how they contribute in areas where I am weak. Seeing other people’s strengths is a key to leadership. Helping others to see and realize their areas of strength is also key.
One of the best ways to help others understand and utilize his/her strengths is through the use of your own vulnerability. I know I am not God’s gift to leadership. However, after many years, I have come to realize that God has gifted me in some areas of leadership. Even this has not been an easy factor for me to grasp. Perhaps because I know I have shortcomings and failures in my leading. Realizing these factors is the first step. Sharing your shortcomings is the beginning of vulnerability.
It becomes very beneficial for a leader to share his/her vulnerabilities to those whom he/she leads. And the way you share is the key factor which will build up or tear down the confidence and morale of others. Always share to encourage, embolden, and strengthen those you are speaking to.
When sharing your own vulnerabilities, never share to build yourself up or show how “good” you are. Always share to show you too have weaknesses and shortcomings. Share to build others up, to show they too can overcome obstacles that they may be facing. A successful leader will share his/her vulnerabilities to help others overcome obstacles and mindsets keeping them from performing at their very best.
Show me a leader who refuses to show a chink in his own armor, his weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and you will find low morale and high turnover in that leader’s employees/volunteers. Showing vulnerability actually builds integrity. What will you do this week to build integrity through vulnerability?
George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at ALSBOM.org/revitalization.
Vulnerability in Leadership