Vulnerability is a Leadership Strength

Jann Freed Leading, Living Leave a Comment

Vulnerability is a leadership strength.

This was the title of one of the chapters in my book Leading with Wisdom:  Sage Advice from 100 Experts.  But the editor from my publishing company did not think that title would resonate with male leaders.  So the chapter is called:  Leaders Connect with Empathy and Compassion.

I still believe vulnerability is a strength, yet it is scary to be vulnerable.  Recently, I read this article in the newsletter “On Being with Krista Tippett” about tenderness and the need for people to be able to express feelings and show empathy and compassion toward one another.

The author of the article, Courtney Martin, includes a recent video clip of Jimmy Kimmel sharing his feelings with the audience about the birth of his new son.  Interestingly, one of my sons had actually sent the same clip around to the family because he thought it was so moving.  Here is what Martin said about Kimmel and the clip is below:

“Kimmel, not known for being particularly tender in public, repeatedly broke down as he described the care that he and his family received at every turn — the nurse that noticed his son’s alarming symptoms, the co-workers who sent cards, the extended family who showed up and called and counseled. In the final moments of his monolog, he made a plea for protecting and expanding access to healthcare in this country, one of the best articulations of why it matters that I’ve ever heard. It wasn’t about politics; it was about our inevitable vulnerability and inherent dignity. And I think part of why it has been viewed over eight million times is that it feels so striking to see a man known for being tough and funny also show up as fragile and grateful.”

After watching this clip, what are your thoughts about vulnerability? 

How would expressing more vulnerability in the workplace or at home enrich your life and the lives of others? 

I am proud of my son for being moved by the vulnerability expressed by Jimmy Kimmel.