Strength and Vulnerability: A Balancing Act of Leadership Characteristics (Part 2)

May 5, 2009 -- Sal Silvester

In my recent blog post, Courage and Humility: A Balancing Act of Leadership Characteristics, I mentioned that leadership often requires a unique balance of sometimes opposing characteristics. In Part 1,  I spoke wrote about Courage and Humility.

The second set of characteristics that I believe is required of a successful leader is the balance of strength with vulnerability.

As a word, strength means mental power, force, or vigor. In reference to leadership I believe that strength means the ability to take action – especially when taking action is difficult. It takes strength to make decisions when others will not. It takes strength to push projects forward in the face of resistance. It takes strength to speak up when everyone is thinking alike.

On the flip side, leaders have to be vulnerable. As a word, vulnerability means capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt. I believe Patrick Lencioni expresses it best in his book The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team. He says that team members must get comfortable being vulnerable with one another and that vulnerability is the key to building a foundation of trust. Leaders must be vulnerable enough to ask for help. They must be vulnerable enough to admit mistakes. They must be vulnerable enough to ask their people for input on resolving business issues and making decisions.

How do you balance strength and vulnerability in your leadership roles?

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