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Brené Brown, Vulnerability, and Strong Leadership

“No vulnerability, no creativity. No tolerance for failure, no innovation. It is that simple. If you’re not willing to fail, you can’t innovate. If you’re not willing to build a vulnerable culture, you can’t create.” —Brené Brown

The Leading Edge team is buzzing about the new Netflix special, Brené Brown: The Call to Courage. In case you aren’t one of the nearly 40 million people who are familiar with her TED talk, Dr. Brown is a bestselling author and a research professor at the University of Houston who has spent more than 20 years looking at topics like empathy, shame, courage and vulnerability.

The first researcher with her own Netflix special, Dr. Brown connects vulnerability to authentic leadership: “Giving feedback receiving feedback. Problem solving. Ethical decision making.  These are all borne of vulnerability,” she tells us.

Leading Edge has now surveyed more than 10% of the employees in the Jewish nonprofit sector regarding their overall engagement at work. When Leading Edge looked at the largest gaps between those claiming they want to leave their organization within the next year and those who plan to stay, senior leadership, direct managers, and internal communications (which is closely tied to leadership) have the greatest impact on this response.

Dr. Brown stresses that vulnerability is a sign of strong leadership. She defines vulnerability as taking action when there is “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.”

“When we build cultures at work where there is zero tolerance-for vulnerability,” Brown says, “where perfectionism and armor are rewarded and necessary, you can’t have [difficult] conversations. They’re not productive.”

Leading Edge President & CEO  Gali Cooks recently opined about the issue of vulnerability:

“When people take the time to reflect upon and understand their own internal experiences—to “know thyself”—they unearth fertile ground that is the bedrock for learning and growth,” wrote Cooks. “The more you know about yourself—what drives you, what triggers you, what strengths you have, what weaknesses you struggle with—the better able you are to communicate those factors to your team and surround yourself with people who can complement your attributes, energy and behavior.”

Read Gali’s full piece here.

If you’re interested in exploring the role that vulnerability plays in your own leadership and in your workplace, check out more from Brené Brown here.

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