Simply saying, ‘I was wrong,’ and meaning it, embracing it, is an expression of vulnerability. –James Autry
A question I hold and a question I invite you, gentle reader, to hold is: How gracefully do I carry my wounds? As I noted in PART I, leaders (by situation or by role) are called to learn to carry their wounds, their pain, their hurt, gracefully. They will choose – remember gentle reader, we have choice – not to inflict a wound in response to their own inflicted-wounds (as imperfect human beings we will, at times, choose to inflict a wound in response to our being wounded). These leaders will choose not to be spite-full or revenge-full. They will choose not to hold a grudge. They will choose not to use their power or authority to punish the wound-deliverer.
Leaders who choose to carry their wounds gracefully also experience, over time, that others will also choose to learn to carry their wounds gracefully. They will also choose to learn to respond in ‘grace-full’ ways when they are wounded.
Being vulnerable also means that you, the leader, are able to recognize, name, admit and accept your mistakes. I am recalling the young leader who in the early 1950s made a mistake that cost the organization millions of dollars. The young leader recognized, named, admitted, and accepted his mistake. The CEO’s response was this: ‘Mr. B., I just spent millions of dollars educating you. I want to know what you learned. I also want you to know that I will fire you if you ever come close to making this type of mistake again AND I will also fire you if you stop taking risks. Now get out there and do your job.’ This young leader, 30 years later, became the CEO/President of this company and guided it through its most challenging ‘wounding.’
Being vulnerable also means that the leader takes the risk to say, ‘I don’t know.’ Anyone who has been in the designated leader role as a consequence of his or her skill, ability and competence knows how difficult it is to even consider uttering these words – especially if he or she is ‘expected’ to know.
Being vulnerable also means that the role-defined leader will surround him or herself with folks that ‘know more than they do.’ This involves, but is not limited to, ‘hiring-up’ rather than ‘hiring-down.’ The number of leaders (executives, managers, team leaders, etc.) that ‘hire-down’ continues to be staggering. This ‘hiring-up’ also pertains to promotions. How many role-defined leaders chose not to promote those who are more ‘competent’ and hence might well become a ‘threat’ to the leader?
Does your philosophy of leadership include a commitment to the growth of those who freely choose to follow you? If so, consider what types of growth are you willing to embrace? Consider the following five dimensions of growth – which ones are you, the leader, committed to helping others develop or develop more fully: Physical Dimension, Intellectual Dimension, Emotional Dimension, Spirit(ual) Dimension, and Social-Relational Dimension.
Consider, gentle reader, that the more we consciously develop these five dimensions in ourselves the more likely we are to support their development in those who freely choose to follow us.
As leaders are we willing to serve those who freely choose to follow us so that they have the opportunity to grow in these ways?
Do those served grow… –Robert K. Greenleaf