Showing Vulnerability to Your Community: The Ultimate Test of Trust

Leader showing vulnerability in a Community of Practice

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” ― Brené Brown

There’s a ubiquitous idea among community and business leaders—hide your weakness, at any cost. 

This approach may work at times if the goal is gaining power, but it’s nearly impossible to be an effective leader of a Community of Practice (CoP) with this philosophy. As my last blog post highlighted, trust is the essential element in any Community of Practice, and the only way to gain the trust of your team is by showing vulnerability. 

A few years ago I experienced the truth of this. My husband and I worked with a realtor who promised amazing results after we saw our “dream house” that was clearly beyond our reach. Somewhat worryingly, she told us, “trust me”. 

While these words can be oversold by many a person in sales, she really meant it. She went on to describe what was basically a Community of Practice among realtors. 

Community of practice

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Trust: The Essential Element in any Community of Practice

Community of Practice DefinitionDo you trust each member of your team? Do they trust you? Do they trust each other? According to Stephen Covey, “The ability to establish, grow, extend, and restore trust is the key professional and personal competency of our time.”

Trust is especially important if you’re working within a Community of Practice. In fact, a Community of Practice (CoP) based on anything but a shared feeling of trust and security—like fear or authority—ultimately will be a failure, because it’s based on an unstable foundation.

Of course, this is all easier said than done. Trust needs to be built over time and attended to on a regular basis. The trust of your team members can’t be bought, only earned.

Community of practice

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Orchestrate Your Team to Success Through Coaching

Have you noticed as modern-day employees make their way into the workplace, they expect to play by an entirely different set of rules than those of past generations? Most likely you have Millennials, the generation that reached young adulthood in the early 21st century, as part of your team. As a team leader, have you adapted or are you still trying to play by yesterday’s rules?

In times past, employees would be given orders and were required to implement them if they wanted to hold their positions. However, times have changed. Younger workers want to be given the freedom to experiment, a voice within their organization, and the ability to pursue what they view as meaningful work. Anything less they view as limiting.

Sadly, leaders from previous generations often misunderstand the younger generations’ motivations. As a result, they underinvest in employee training, assume that all young people are the same, or even worse, question their drive and work ethic. To do this would be a big mistake, essentially, it means throwing away the future of your company!

As a team leader, one of your biggest challenges (and opportunities) is to create and foster an environment that lends itself to engagement and productivity. Today, more than ever before, to ensure high levels of workplace output and morale employees need to feel valued and challenged. It’s also clear that to be able to respond to and stay ahead of change, leaders need to develop workers who are comfortable thinking independently and contributing to the team.

It’s time to shed the old-fashioned view of “the boss” and start viewing yourself like an orchestrator.

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How Understanding Your “Ikigai” Can Make You an Exceptional Leader

understanding ikigai - a reason for being as a balance between love, skills, needs and moneyHave you heard of ikigai? It’s a Japanese term that doesn’t have a direct translation in English. However, the concept revolves around your reason for being, your meaning or purpose in life.

I love learning new words because like John Keating once said, “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” When I was introduced to the word ikigai, I instantly saw that it had that kind of power, especially for leaders.

How do you identify your ikigai? It lies in the center of four intersecting circles – what you love, what you do well, what the world needs, and what you’re paid for doing.

This is just the concept leaders need to embrace now that we are shifting from an industrial economy to a knowledge economy. We’re transitioning to a new economic framework that, especially for millennials, is rooted in purpose. Today your job in and of itself is not your purpose, as it was in previous generations.

As I consider my own Ikigai, I find…

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How to Nurture Leadership with a Community of Practice

a community of practice team works toward growthAre you aspiring to be a great team leader? What does that involve? I love this quote by Orrin Woodward, “Average leaders raise the bar on themselves; good leaders raise the bar for others; great leaders inspire others to raise their own bar.”

In any goal-oriented community, we learn and grow by observing and practicing in a safe space with other learners.  I’ve found that the establishment of Communities of Practice for leaders to share, develop and learn about leadership is a way to aid in the growth of burgeoning leaders exponentially. Not only does the primary leader becoming more effective in their own work, but all members of the community also become powerful thought partners for each other.

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Louise J Santiago, PhD
Executive Coach and Organizational Consultant

Where Leadership is Intentional Work

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