Protecting the heart can impact how we show up as vulnerable inclusive leaders.
Our leadership styles must morph to remove layers that get in the way of genuinely embracing differences in the workplace. To achieve that goal, today’s inclusive leader must adopt raw vulnerability as a critical skill in addition to curiosity, self-awareness, and active listening. We have reached a point where such openness is the olive branch and connector for diversity and inclusion dialogue.
Achieving mastery will go a long way to contend with the competing priorities for fostering inclusion and belonging in the workplace. Jeffrey Cohn and U. Srinivasa Rangan’s Harvard Business Review article highlighted former co-CEO of Bridgewater Associates as a vulnerable leader. The latter, through one-on-one coaching, inspired subordinates aspiring for more significant leadership. The new workplace culture calls for leaders to bring forth a new breed of vulnerability to tackle the challenges at hand.
Brené Brown calls vulnerability excruciating yet “the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” Brown’s definition aligns with some of the essential benefits reaped from effectively leveraging diversity and inclusion in the workplace. I suspect many of us are still grappling with the complexities of what the inclusive leader role requires. After all, evidence shows that there is still deep healing necessary to reconcile our history. Where can we find help? We can learn from some of today’s leaders who are demonstrating vulnerability as a key strength.
Leaders Leveraging Vulnerability As A Strength
Oprah Winfrey, CEO Harpo
Oprah’s workplace (television, movies, magazine, etc.) has been visible to many for decades. Whatever she delivers has an added layer of vulnerability that has garnered millions of followers. Whether it is her weight struggle, relationship challenges, or diversity concerns, she has demonstrated openness in sharing her truth unapologetically.
Tim Cook, CEO, Apple
He embraces his identity as an out gay man who consistently uses his voice to fight for equality. Under Tim’s leadership, Apple has donated $100 million in the fight against racial equality. Follow Tim on Twitter to see that he continually tweets about inclusion and isn’t afraid to demonstrate vulnerability with finesse.
Kenneth Frazier, Chairman, and CEO, Merck
Long an advocate of diversity, equity, and inclusion, Ken is highly respected. He was one of the sought-out voices to comment on George Floyd’s murder. His vulnerable, authentic response made headlines. For even in his role, he could see himself in George Floyd’s place.
Sara Blakely, CEO, Spanx
Sara is one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. She is in constant communication with her millions of followers on the LinkedIn platform. Her highly engaging motivational posts encourage vulnerability as a strategy. She is an open book about her journey to being a self-made billionaire.
Inclusive Leaders must commit to the transformation leadership journey. We must embrace vulnerability as a skill, even if it is uncomfortable for us.
I am an award-winning Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion leader who is on a mission to transform leaders and workplaces. I do so through consulting, coaching, and training