Laying The First Stone
Building a bridge takes more courage than jumping off a cliff.
In our previous insight, we discussed the power of “leading with heart” and laid out a few key characteristics, including vulnerability, cultivating psychological safety, and developing high-trust relationships. Next, we introduced expert resources we will be referring to throughout this Insight series. From there, we highlighted “The Gap” as one of today’s biggest leadership challenges. We then defined this gap as the space between what got you to where you are and what will help your people go further. If you’d like to read that and catch up—click here.
Did you know that the 10 oldest bridges still standing are all constructed out of stone?
Anyway, let’s jump on in…Or maybe off?
Vulnerability is a word that carries weight, causes fear, confuses crowds, turns heads, shuts down, opens up, pushes away, and breaks free.
But how can this be a strength in leadership?
In leadership, vulnerability is often paralleled with weakness, fragility, and sometimes said to be “too time-consuming.”
Nonetheless, we’ve found it to be an essential component of effective leadership development, especially as you learn to lead the upcoming generations.
But don’t take it from us.
Brené Brown, a leading expert in vulnerability and leadership, defines vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” But she doesn’t stop there. She continues with, “Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our most accurate measure of courage.”
Courage is something we know is a strength in leadership. It has stood the test of time. From early civilization warriors who led their people across land masses, knights in shining armor defending their kingdoms, Harriet Tubman rescuing slaves, to Nelson Mandela’s fight for equality, courage was at the forefront. From young men and women leaving home at the ripe young age of 18 to protect their country to the first wobbly steps of a toddler, courage is vital at all stages of leadership.
Courage can show up in all shapes, sizes, and colors. It can be displayed by young or old. It can be immediate or developed over time. But no matter how it manifests, we can all agree that courage is a leadership strength.
In Brené Brown’s book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, I think the title speaks for itself.
She first lays out her definition of vulnerability—as stated above—and goes on to say:
“Our only choice is a question of engagement.
Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection.”
So, if you notice the gap widening, or at least not getting smaller, then maybe much like the stone bridge, tap into that deep bed of courage and place the first stone. Lead with courage and vulnerability.
Building a bridge takes time, energy, resources, and willing parties.
Nevertheless, it’s you as a leader who has the ability to lay the first stone.
Furthermore, the first stone in constructing a bridge—the cornerstone—is what contributes to its ability to stand the test of time. Maybe, the laying of the first stone is asking a simple question: “Am I willing to engage with my own vulnerability?”
I don’t think it has to be more complicated than that. Your people are around for their own reasons; they want to build something great with you, engage in meaningful work, provide for their families, and build a life.
You have the ability to step out in courage and lead with heart to develop a shared purpose with your people. A characteristic of leading with heart is vulnerability. Vulnerability and courage go hand-in-hand.
Much like the stone bridge, courage has stood the test of time.
I know you’re courageous!
Part of leading with heart is having the courage to engage with your own vulnerability.
So…will you engage? Better yet, will you lay the first stone?
Stick with me and come back in a few weeks, where we will discuss another facet of Leading with Heart and how to keep laying stones!
Below, I’ve linked a few more resources that highlight Brené Brown’s work. If this interested you, sparked curiosity or scared you a little bit, that’s fine—dig in below on your own time. Or reach out to us at DRYVE Leadership Group. Click here to schedule a complimentary strategy call today!
The Oldest Bridges in the World – If you are interested in learning more about really old bridges.
Leading From Hurt Versus Leading From Heart – Discusses tangible differences between the two and paves the way for more leaders to keep showing up and engaging.
The Power of Vulnerability | Brené Brown – Live Ted Talk – Brené Brown explores the power of vulnerability and her search around the subject.