Authenticity & Vulnerability

Nicole’s posts prompted me to write these lines and accompanying link.
The video is a speech given by Dr. Brené Brown at a TEDxHouston event.
It is titled the Cost of Invulnerability. The video takes about 20 minutes and I hope that you can find the time to listen to this.

Why do I think that this is appropriate for the work that we do at 5C!? It is our experience in working with individuals and teams that it is trust (or the lack thereof) that is the missing ingredient in achieving better, more satisfying results in our lives and workplaces.

The cost of not sharing a story
Dr. Brown uses different words, the result however is the same. What I love and support is that it takes Courage to break the cycle of shame, i.e. being not good enough. It takes the conscious, courageous decision to be Authentic, to share our ‘story’. The cost of not being able to share that ‘story’, whatever reason for is much higher. The at times apparent, often unconscious inability of Managers and Leaders to be ‘vulnerable’ – to show up authentically, leads to friction within teams, groups and individuals, which in turn leads to a numbed response by employees, who then in turn only do a ‘job’, without passion and engagement. In the worst case such employees leave the Company. The cost of a new hire and the resulting training is then considerable.

Now in turn the same is true for the employee, it takes trust to speak up courageously to their peers or Managers and Leaders about issues that might be important to them and the business they are in. It is our experience that very often this does not take place, as said before there is no trust and no space to be vulnerable.

Engaging instead of disengaging
You might say – yes nice talk…. and talk is easy… therefore let me share a ‘story’. I have for a number of years worked as a contract coach and trainer in an organization that I have not always seen eye to eye with on contextual issues. There are cultural differences that play a role, that show up in the expression of style and I am sure language too. Particularly with one principal, I could not find the same language and understanding for each others position, which at times has lead to friction. It would have been easy to just shut up and do as I am told. Shutting up and eating the ‘issues’ down would have been the normal thing to do, it would not have taken my inner grumbling away and a metaphorical wound would have grown.

So counterintuitively I engaged with said principal, shared openly, vulnerably my thoughts, opinions and feelings and asked her to engage with me to resolve the issues that where between us.

Since this is a person that is very different than I am, it was (and is) not particularly easy to make that step. The inner talk was, ‘why am I doing this to myself! conflict just s***’s, I am trying so hard’. (Yes…, I know what the PCM-converts amongst you are thinking now … ;-))

Well, it is my experience that acting counterintuitively – engaging instead of disengaging – in times of conflict actually can be satisfying, creating a sense of accomplishment and heightening self-esteem. I have to say that by far not all issues where decided my way and yet showing up authentically in conflict created a deeper understanding and respect for each other. Has this become easier? Yes, a little and it is still uncomfortable.

It takes courage to consciously change a workplace culture. Yes, we want to support you in that change.

I hope you like this post and that it inspires you to share your ‘story’.

Johann Entz-v. Zerssen

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