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The Power of Vulnerability

In a previous post, I listed “Vulnerability” as one of 5 Great Leadership Risks.the power of vulnerability

In movies, leaders tend to be shown as super strong and svelte, dressed in an impenetrable and dashing suit with a walk that means business and talk that means taking action at all costs. It’s all about encompassing that “no funny business” demeanor and giving a stone-cold stare in the face of death. Now, that’s entertainment!

But let’s not forget that that’s all it is. In the real world—where you and I live and go to work every day–the best leaders are vulnerable, not invincible.

Now, vulnerable is not synonymous with weak; they are not identical terms. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable doesn’t mean you’re unable to perform your duties to the best of your ability day after day. It does mean that you’ll be human and therefore able to transform perceived weaknesses into strengths that drive you, your team, and your business forward.

Here are three personal recommendations on how you can go about doing that:

  1. Be the Extreme Leader You Know You Can Be.

An Extreme Leader doesn’t necessarily have to be someone who walks on hot coals or skydives to show bravery. Oftentimes, an Extreme Leader is someone who does the right thing, even when it’s unpopular or extremely tough to do so.

For instance, an Extreme Leader will stand up for an employee who is going through a tough period and is failing to meet daily expectations. Rather than take the side of simply letting this employee go, an Extreme Leader will talk to this person, understand his or her needs, and work together to rebuild confidence.

Doing the right thing is what makes an Extreme Leader a great leader. Plus, that “do the right thing” attitude is something you can pass throughout your company, too.

  1. Don’t Fear the Unknown.

Have you ever heard that the fear you know is better than the one you don’t? Don’t believe it, because nothing could be further from the truth!

Any fear you try to overcome will be a challenge, regardless of whether you’ve dealt with it before or you’re encountering it for the first time. However, as an Extreme Leader, you’ll be ready to face the unknown with a sense of pride and dedication.

One of the most common things we face every day is what I like to call the “Oh Shit! Moment” (OS!M). This moment occurs whenever you’re taking a risk, tackling a new challenge, or pushing yourself beyond your limitations—all of which are in the category of things you choose to do.

But what about the unexpected fires that you have to put out? What do you say to yourself when anything and everything that could go wrong does, and ultimately, you’re the one left holding the bag?

“Oh shit!” right?

So the question becomes: How do you handle the OS!Ms that you did not choose, the ones that are unexpectedly thrust upon you?

Many people cower under the pressure. Some people ignore it, or at least try to ignore it, or may choose to blame others for their own problems.

Few people, conversely, ever stand up, take accountability, and work toward finding a resolution.

When it comes to being a standout Extreme Leader, you’ll want to rise above the situation. And even though it’s tough to do so, you should see every OS!M as a learning opportunity, a moment to embrace the fear to drive you to become better equipped to make difficult decisions both now and in the future.

So instead of pretending that you’re fearless while you’re trembling inside, know that your trepidation is a natural human experience, and embrace it for what it is: a simple indicator that you have the opportunity for greatness.

  1. Cultivate a Culture of Love.

You and your team demand the best, and with a culture of love, you’ll be able to drive long-lasting results for yourself, your team, and your business.

Cultivate Love by sharing your thoughts and feelings with your team. By doing so, you’ll be able to open up to your team, show that you’re a human being who is passionate about what you do, and encourage employees to collaborate with one another to achieve common goals.

A culture of love isn’t a foreign phenomenon. It’s actually something that the best companies do quite well, and as a result, helps these businesses attract and retain top talent and rise above the competition consistently.

Take a look at Under Armour, for example.

The ability to cultivate Love is a key facet of Extreme Leadership. With this ability at your disposal, you’ll be able to show employees not only that you care but why you care, and empathize with your team better than ever before.

Be vulnerable, and you can reap the benefits of being an Extreme Leader who is honest, committed to excellence, and wants the best for yourself, your team, and your company.


Steve Farber Extreme Leadership


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  1. Thank you for the thoughts, sir! I especially enjoyed going to the Under Armour article. Oh, and I want to point out that the link has a problem that may catch some folks. It’s taking you to a ‘mailto:’ instead of the site.

    We’re at a strange time for leadership in the United States. On one hand, we’re seeing a lot of really inspiring corporate leaders. On the other, we’re seeing some political leaders head in directions that aren’t quite so positive. I gain a lot of optimism when I see leaders like Kevin Plank drop the L bomb (love!) right at the front of an interview about their performance.

    I also wanted to say (belatedly) that I greatly appreciate the frequency of the updates on the site now. It’s good to get at least a weekly dose of Farber. It’s good for the soul!

    Thank you!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for all the great input, Timothy! And also for the heads-up on the link. Fixed!

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