The value of vulnerability for physician leaders

Thoughts and ideas from The Physician Executive
The value of vulnerability for physician leaders
September 13, 2017 at 12:00 AM
by The Physician Executive
vulnerability has value for physician leaders

A recent article on Vulnerability as a positive leadership trait got me thinking on what this means and truly looks like.

In the article, the new CEO of Uber admits in an open email to the employees of his soon-to-be former company Expedia:

I have to tell you I am scared. I’ve been here at Expedia for so long that I’ve forgotten what life is like outside this place. But the times of greatest learning for me have been when I’ve been through big changes, or taken on new roles–you have to move out of your comfort zone and develop muscles that you didn’t know you had.

“I have to tell you I’m scared”. How powerful human those seven words are. They invite trust. They infer that your own fears, and those of others who are being challenged in some way, are normal. They imply psychological safety – that you will be allowed to experiment, take risk, dare, and possibly even fail, all while bringing your best intentions to your efforts.

I have a monthly date with Brene Brown. I do this to remind myself regularly of the value of vulnerability by watching her funny and revealing TED Talk video. In case you don’t know who Brene is, she’s an author and public speaker, who is currently a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work.

In the video (I urge you to watch it), she describes how, in order to establish genuine connection, she came to appreciate the courage it takes to be authentically vulnerable, while avoiding the more toxic emotion of shame.

She reminds me how to step away from the need to always be right, to empathize even with people whose stances are anathema to me, to allow myself to be deeply seen.

Here is Brene’s morning-after video, with its focus on shame as shadow side of vulnerability, to enjoy as well.

Yes, vulnerability is hard!

Dear physician colleagues, I invite you to reflect on and to practice showing your vulnerability as a leader.