To raise the visor: how vulnerability helps leaders become stronger

The owners of large capitals in Russia, as a rule, individualistic — they are charged on assertiveness, achievement, power and wealth. This is revealed in research conducted by the SKOLKOVO business school in 2015 Such features generally characteristic of individuals who seek to dominate and make a bid for power, which confirms the popular belief that a leader in Russia must be cruel, harsh and impenetrable. It is believed that in a corrosive environment you can’t show weakness, and even admit their own mistakes — otherwise you will not survive and will inevitably fall not only in the eyes of their enemies, but associates. A perfect illustration of this is the recent flash mob violence victims in social networks #aboussafy which has caused not only empathy, but also a fierce debate about what is acceptable to demonstrate to the Russian environment.

Study weaknesses

Studies conducted in Western universities, says otherwise. Professor brené brown of the University of Houston argues that people should not be afraid to accept and demonstrate their vulnerability. In her view, “raising his visor,” we let into our life experience, which opens new relationships, trust and meaning. Videos brown the Power of vulnerability” has gained 26 million views on the TED portal, and the second book “The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection and Courage” became an international bestseller.

The concept of vulnerability is key and to the principles of the Swiss business school IMD, which for many years holds the first place in the global ranking of open educational programs, devoted mainly to disclosure leadership potential. IMD is coming from the person: to be a leader means to constantly experience the risk of being misunderstood and rejected, be alone or lose everything — so, constantly look into the eyes of our own vulnerability. To cope with this impossible, if not to preserve the authenticity, accepting yourself for who you are, including conditional “weakness” and shortcomings.

Vulnerable heroes

We are accustomed to the fact that the leader of Russia is a knight without fear and without reproach, and the vulnerability is often associated with shame or fear, so we close and try to avoid it. Even if the leader has shortcomings, it is not accepted to speak about them out loud — because of the high power distance, even the idea of discussing weaknesses seems blasphemous and seditious. The leader, in turn, is afraid to show vulnerability, to not become which follows Akela, who “missed”. The same, demonstrated indecisiveness and weakness, Russian history did not spare — think of Nicholas II or Mikhail Gorbachev, who first in his era were not afraid to show that they are real people, who have concerns and feelings.

However, if we look deeper into Russian history and literature, we see that even in Russia the greatest leaders have achieved more and reached a new milestone when they showed vulnerability. Undefeated Suvorov on the eve of the decisive battle of Malinskoj valley in the Alps stood in front of the generals to his knees and began to cry. This made them such a strong impression that, according to the memoirs of Bagration, they came from the commander in chief with such force of will and spirit that didn’t see any other choice but to die with glory or defeat. A century earlier, during the struggle for the throne between Peter the great and Princess Sofia the elite made a bid for yet less rigid and more human Peter, who during a riot Musketeers lost my temper and robes galloped in the Trinity-Sergius Lavra. The hero of “War and peace Andrei Bolkonsky, like her father, feared to show the slightest weakness and shame, and ultimately could not be reconciled with themselves and died, and Pierre Bezukhov, is almost entirely composed of weak points, suddenly became the main protagonist of the novel.

Wrong strength

Leadership is not only about a set of specific skills. First and foremost, it’s about relationships and relationships are built on empathy and vulnerability of both parties. The containment and invulnerability of the leader makes his subordinates indifferent, they do not associate themselves with him, step back and very easy going. Those who agree to work alongside an impeccable perfectionist, often do it only to solve their own problems, and in this case it is difficult to expect from them commitment, motivation and ability to work on the edge of possibilities. Such “internal emigrants” it is difficult to achieve great and change the world.

Finally, the vulnerability is directly related to the ethical core: the tendency to self-assertion and the inability to feel in a position of weakness greatly simplifies moral choices. A society that used to hide their weaknesses very easily make a choice in favor of strong but wrong — that clearly shows the reaction of a significant part of the Internet community on the above-mentioned flash mob. Not surprisingly, such companies grow leaders, is aimed at domination and not able to reset the mask as the alpha male, and the society, in turn, sees them as role models. It is a vicious circle, reproducing the very knights who are afraid to raise the visor. But if we want our society became a bit more empathic, our leaders must learn this.

The authors ‘ point of view, articles which are published in the section “Opinions” may not coincide with ideas of editorial.