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Managing Change: The Importance of Vulnerability

Managing Change: The Importance of Vulnerability

Are you willing to look in the mirror for the real impact your leadership has on others? Are you modeling vulnerability as you lead organizational change?

What’s important about vulnerability in change management? Inauthentic people have a hard time earning trust. Trust is foundational to getting the best from others…it is the basis of every relationship.

People going through change feel more unsettled than usual. Trust is foundational to their willingness to be vulnerable while they learn something new. Fear of failure and fear of not knowing the right answer can paralyze and derail new learning.

A leader who models vulnerability makes it more acceptable to learn as you go…risk not being perfect.

Change or elseWhen a manager’s career track is based in command and control…”do as I say because I’m the boss” they issue directives. People are paid to follow them. They execute goals or get hammered. Simple? You bet. That’s much easier than today’s organizational realities where change and learning through doing something new are the realities we face.

What does it take to lead in industries under siege from technological disruption?

I guess that depends on how far down the survival mentality road the organization is. If you are in survival mode, vulnerability means you are prey. Prey are there to be eaten. No one wants to die.

But- if your organization is not yet in the throes of a death rattle, are vulnerability and authenticity qualities that bind relationships? Absolutely.

Why do relationships matter? Organizations under the fire of disruption by technology are in need of new vision, new solutions and innovation. Work cultures structured for compliance make it hard to engage motivated creative thinking by even the best intentioned leaders and teams if there is low trust and low engagement.

Collaboration and risk taking need to be anchored in trusted relationships to flourish.

Very few companies and organizations invest in leadership development that equips people to operate at the highest level of leadership grounded in emotional and social intelligence.

Change Begins With You

That brings me back to my question for you…are you willing to be authentic and vulnerable for the sake of relationships that build the trust you need to engage others?

One way to manage your fear is invest in the learning and skills you need to be an authentic leader who has great positive impact.

Take the initiative yourself and don’t wait for others to do it for you. You’ll be waiting a long time.


  1. Sally Strackbein 6 years ago


    You are so right. Being vulnerable is one surefire way for a leader to connect. When you are perfect and unapproachable, you are, well, unapproachable. When you first trust others, they can then trust you. When you are open and show your flaws, people are more likely to connect with you and bring problems or solutions to you.

  2. Bev Barker 6 years ago

    Gwen and Sally,
    I couldn’t agree more that showing a little “vulnerability” helps leaders to connect, share and influence. That point came up at Sally’s Breakfast & Business Book Exchange in Reston last Friday. It triggered lots of interaction and raised the energy level in the room. This is a good post – I am just visiting your website for the first time – and that post certainly “rang a bell” for me. Storytelling is so important and gets even more sharing in today’s “social media” world. – Thanks, Bev

    • Gwen Kinsey 6 years ago

      Thanks for your visit, Bev…and for leaving this comment. I think one reason people hesitate to show vulnerability is their fear of being wrong. That particular fear is a powerful censor that hampers growth and interferes with new ideas.

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