Living as a Leader,  Organizational Leadership

Vulnerability and Transparency

Vulnerability and transparency are both valued but different qualities

Vulnerability means to open oneself up to potential harm. So I recommend a trusting relationship as the best place for vulnerability. When vulnerability is part of a trusting relationship it will build more trust. This is why vulnerability is essential in interpersonal relationships.

It’s also why we should not display vulnerability outside of a trusting relationship – consider what the University of Michigan head football coach, Rich Rodriguez, has endured over the past two weeks when he was vulnerable in the presence of the media he obviously does not have a trusting relationship with.

For all of vulnerability’s excellent attributes it doesn’t serve organizations nearly as well because, by their nature, organizations are public. Since it’s impossible to have a trusting relationship with all of the public displaying public vulnerability puts an organization at a high degree risk.

So being vulnerable, no matter how good it is for individuals in trusting relationships, it’s not good for organizations or public figures because you cannot have a trusting relationship with everyone.

Transparency on the other hand is the better road taken by both public individuals and organizations. Transparency is different in that it doesn’t require lowering the defenses as vulnerability does. Yet transparency lets “the light in” so others can see what’s really there. It’s being honest and forthright without being vulnerable and thus open to harm.

As a leader I believe strongly that for public people and organizations, such as SpringHill, transparency is a mandate. Transparency builds trust with the public without putting the organization at high risk of harm.

Leave a Reply