Anne is a highly skilled leadership facilitator and executive coach whose warmth and insight i value deeply. She is the Managing Partner and Owner of Yellow Change. I have had the pleasure of working alongside Anne on a leadership development programme and I'm thrilled that she agreed to share this story about vulnerability in the 2nd edition of my book.
The Power of Vulnerability
Some time ago an executive team within the Life Sciences business asked me to help them become more cohesive as a team. During the interviews I had with each executive team member the theme of “connection” emerged. Whereas the team was successful in their own right, most of the members complained that it was hard to get close to their team leader. Whenever they tried to have more personal conversations with her she “shut down”.
During the team dinner, on the evening before an offsite, I organised a quiz where I asked some personal questions, as such “in how many countries have you live up until till now?” This is when the team leader revealed that she had lived in eight countries during her childhood and adolescence. This was due to her dad’s job as a crisis-manager who was often called upon to close down plants. The answer evoked a silence in the room and opened the “door” a tiny bit.
The Eureka moment for the team didn’t happen until the next day however. Each team member reflected on the question “what event in your life has had a major impact on who you are today?” In that moment the executive and her team discovered the power of vulnerability.
The team leader explained that due to the average two-year-move-rhythm, she was never able to build friendships and to nurture personal connections. Her father’s job had also led her to protect herself from angry reactions by building a “protective shield”. As she opened up told her story she became very emotional. The team responded in a caring and understanding way and expressed that they were serious about building something with her.