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Vulnerability and me

April 16, 2024

I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about vulnerability and leadership.

One of the key activities in my business is working on a local government contract which offers mentoring and advice to pre-start and early-stage businesses.

The mentoring is free to access for participants and I think is unique in terms of the ecosystem in the UK, both in terms of it’s scope and scale.

I meet a wide variety and range of clients, who have needs ranging from answers to what appear to be simple questions, to those with more complex needs around confidence, self-worth and action planning.

The one thing that I see time and again is vulnerability.

Vulnerability in terms of speaking to a stranger (me) about precious and fragile ideas.

Vulnerability in terms of leaving ourselves open to criticism and ridicule.

Vulnerability in terms of exposing ourselves to real (and likely) failure for the very first time.

The more of this work that I do the more I feel that the space I hold for people is extremely precious and privileged.

I have the opinion of one person and whilst I think I have the scars to show for setting up as self-employed and my own business, I have totally different circumstances and life experience to the person sitting across the coffee table.

During and after sessions I often find myself thinking about the courage of someone to pick up the phone, sign up to a contact form or send in an email asking for help.  Then doing that again when they meet someone in person.

Saying ‘I don’t know the answer and I need help’.

I wonder how many of us do that genuinely in our own work.

If, through the act of asking for help, we could make more progress then why do we hold back?

I think for most people it probably has something to do with ego, sense of reputational risk, corporate culture & bullsh*t notions of what a manager is supposed to be.

Overall, I think most of us would do well to ask ourselves ‘would I like to work for me?’ and then consider where vulnerability does or could show up in our day to day.

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