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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Are You Vulnerable?

Are you vulnerable? Vulnerability is a bad idea in business. When you're vulnerable, the concern is that people can take advantage of you. You don't want to look weak.

My mother is a very open and giving person. Sometimes it appears that people take advantage of her. One time, when a friend seemed to be inappropriately using my mother, I asked her, "why do you let her do that? Don't you know she's taking advantage of you?" My mother's response was "people can't take advantage of you if you let them." I thought that was very profound. In other words, people can take advantage of the unwilling or unknowing. However, if we choose to let people do what they do, no one can say they're taking advantage of us...we're letting it happen.

Back to vulnerability. Relationships are about taking chances. Depending on how deep the relationship determines how open we are. The level of openness has a direct corollary: vulnerability.

If you believe you need to have good, solid relationships with your team members, you will have to open yourself up somewhat. When you do that, you make yourself vulnerable to those team members. You make yourself human. You show yourself to be imperfect and that you have flaws (although, they've probably already picked up on some of your flaws from working with you).

Relationships are risky. There's no doubt about it. However, in order to be the servant leader you want to be, in order to develop a sense of trust with your people, and in order to build a group of committed team members, you have to be vulnerable.

What are other risks to being vulnerable? Can you be too open with your people?

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