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The Infamous "V" Word


This word has been thrown around a lot recently and for many of us has lost its impact.


“Vulnerability: the emotion we experience during times of uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.”


I guarantee you, it is this concept that could drastically change the direction of your team. Coin another word if you don't like this one, but don’t miss the message…


Many believe vulnerability equates weakness?


No, the exact opposite. Vulnerability requires a desire to hold space and a connection more than wanting to protect yourself.


I am not talking about bearing your soul or divulging your deepest secrets. This is about letting your guard down a bit, talking about what fears you have and allowing others to sit beside you and partner with you. Creating connection and capitalizing on humanity.


It is easy and common to protect ourselves, to walk right up to that line but only peer over. Never risking what we can’t control. Never pushing ourselves or others for more clarity, more integrity or more accountability.


“Vulnerability is having the courage to show up when you can’t control the outcome-Brenee Brown


It is frightening to push further when the outcome is unknown yet isn't that where the real progress is made? Isn’t it at that moment that the leaders separate themselves from the pack?


It is moments of vulnerability that define a leader, not because they have the answers or seniority, but because they are willing to go over the line. To be so curious and invested in greatness that they no longer focus on themselves. They are willing to take risk for the greater good.


So how do you do this?


In Brenee Brown’s book, Dare to Lead, she speaks beautifully about creating a culture of psychological safety, this was a concept originally coined by Amy Edmundson and is defined as: “removing fear from human interaction and replacing it with respect and permission.” Brenee references Project Aristotle, a Google study which looked at highly productive teams and found that “psychological safety was ‘far and away’ the most important of the 5 dynamics that set successful teams apart”


By creating this dynamic within your team first, it allows for individuals to speak honestly and openly disclose without fear of judgement or retribution. It is these very concepts that will then enable success, innovation, and best practice.


Medicine is a great example. Staying humble and trusting your colleagues is never so relevant. As a provider, you are continually challenged, it is easy and certainly tempting to shy away from collaboration when you fear judgement of your intellect and ability, yet it is that humbleness and risk that we must take to advance our practice and care for our patients. We need to believe and trust that our colleagues will not judge our foundational knowledge but rather see that success is more profound when we show courage and collaborate.


I can not stress the importance of creating an environment and culture in which asking for guidance and advice is not only supported but celebrated. Your team will invariably only give you what is within their “safety zone”. If there is a chance of being penalized or judged, they will not step over the line. In the end, it is the team that loses.


It is your job to create an opportunity for everyone to jump over the line, to trust the connections, and to give of themselves completely.


My Challenge To You:


  • Watch this great Ted Talk on Vulnerability

  • Click on “Project Aristotle”, it gives quick tips as to how to create psychological safety within your team.

  • When you see someone risk vulnerability, acknowledge the bravery and courage they showed. This recognition sends a strong message.

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