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So what keeps us from being vulnerable? Brene Brown says it is shame. She defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” It is the fear of being disconnected.
In organizations shame comes out when people are too scared to share an idea, be innovative, provide feedback, or speak to a client. People are worried about being wrong, being belittled, or feeling less than.
She says that the way to move out of shame is to develop shame resilience. She says that shame resilience is being authentic about how we are feeling, moving through that experience, and coming out on the other side with more compassion and courage than when we went into it. It is moving from shame to empathy as sharing the shame with someone who can empathize with you is really the key healer of shame. She says that there are four elements to developing shame resilience:
Shame resilience is a way of protecting connection to self and to others, but often when we experience shame our emotions take over and we end up in fight or flight mode. We hide, withdraw, seek to appease, or be aggressive as a way to disconnect from the shame. She says the way to stay in connection is to:
We also have to learn to be empathetic with others in order to help them out of their shame. It can be a practice to support others, listen to others, and encourage others to see their shame and let it go. It is turning towards others that sets them and us free in the end. It is supporting each other through the shame and allowing vulnerability which is truly courageous both inside and outside the workplace.
Are you speaking your shame in your organization? Are you supporting people through their shame by encouraging them, inviting a risk-taking environment (e.g. - allowing failure), and staying open to feedback? These are all things that will build a culture of creativity and innovation in your organization so begin to lean into shame resiliency today.
“Management is about coping with complexity. Leadership, by contrast, is about coping with change.” John Kotter
Companies manage complexity by first planning and budgeting, then organizing and staffing, and then controlling and problem solving.
Companies lead by setting a direction, aligning people, and motivating and inspiring.
Kotter says that leadership is really creating a vision of something that could be mundane, but truly serves the needs of its customers and clients. Aligning people truly empowers them to step into their role and contribute in a way that moves the organization forward. Successfully motivating ensures that employees will have the energy to overcome obstacles. It is motivating through satisfying basic human needs of achievement, belonging, recognition, self-esteem, control over one’s life and an ability to live up to one’s ideals.
Management on the other hand is truly taking complex issues and making them more effective, efficient, and productive.
I agree with Kotter that leadership is more visionary and inspiring to bring people along with the strategic plan they have. It takes the ability to take risks, serve clients in a way in which they are not currently served. It is inspiring and open minded and willing to motivate others by working on those aspects that engage employees to want to work through obstacles and not just require it of them. It takes courage to be a leader. It takes authenticity and it takes inspiration - in your own vision and in encouraging others to work towards that vision as well.
Are you a leader or a manager? If you want to be a leader what is your vision to get there? How can you begin to take the steps to become a leader and how can you inspire others to follow your lead?
“Courage is doing what you are afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.” - Eddie Rickenbacker
John Maxwell, in his book “The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader” says courage is one of those key traits and that one thing in common with all leaders is the willingness to take a risk. He says some of the following traits make up courage:
-Courage begins with an inward battle - we fight ourselves and our own fears and courage is when we feel the fear and do it anyways (I LOVE that saying by the way!)
-Courage is making things right, not just smoothing things over - true leaders stand up for something. They have good people skills, but don’t appease people when the situation requires it of them. Their colors are shown when a situation is challenging or controversial for that is when true leaders step up.
-Courage in a leader inspires commitment from followers - a true leaders compels people to do the right thing and truly want to be courageous themselves.
-Your life expands in proportion to your courage - as you begin to take risks you see your life become richer, more nuanced, and with more color. It opens doors and makes the future that much better.
Courage is a true measure of a leader because everyone experiences fear and doubts and worries, but true leaders are ones who are able to experience that fear and step through it to get through to the other side. For the other side is often SO much better than where you started and it is where your power lies. What is one courageous act you can take today?
Monica Thakrar has over 14 years experience in business focused mainly on strategy, change management, leadership development, training and coaching resulting in successful implementations of large scale transformation programs.