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Leadership Friday

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2018 GraduationMay 5th, 2018
Countdown to May 2018 Graduation!


Happy rainy Friday!  Hope that you have cozy plans for the weekend and that you and your loved ones stay safe!

Today’s topic for discussion (please share your thoughts!) relates to leadership vulnerability.  Blogger and HR Exec Carol Anderson writes about this in the context of authenticity, trustworthiness, and more.  You can read the entirety of her blog post here and what follows is an excerpt to pique your interest:


How is a Leader Deemed Trustworthy?

“How is a leader deemed trustworthy? By being authentic. By being real. By being truthful. Always.  How is a leader’s ability trusted? By demonstrating that the leader can face the biggest challenges with competence, confidence and integrity.

Why don’t more leaders see this? Why don’t more leaders do this?  One hypothesis is that leaders don’t feel that they have permission to be vulnerable or to be wrong.

In 1991, Chris Argyris, Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School, published an article titled, “Teaching Smart People to Learn.” In it he explored why some of the smartest people he studied were unable to learn, unwilling to make mistakes, and defensive upon receiving feedback. He said,

“There seems to be a universal human tendency to design one’s actions consistently according to four basic values: 1. To remain in unilateral control; 2. To maximize “winning” and minimize “losing”; 3. To suppress negative feelings; and 4. To be as “rational” as possible – by which people mean defining clear objectives and evaluating their behavior in terms of whether or not they have achieved them.”

He called this the “doom loop” – successful professionals fear failure, and do anything and everything in their power to avoid it, thus losing the valuable opportunity to learn and grow.

Humble InquirySeeking Humility

Edgar Schein, the father of the concept of organizational culture and MIT Professor Emeritus, recently published a new book called “Humble Inquiry.” His premise – status and culture make speaking up to those in positions of power very difficult, so the individual in the position of power must ask. The asking must be done in such a way that it engenders trust, and the only way to do that is to be sincerely interested in what the other person has to say. In order to do that, the person in power has to allow him/herself to appear vulnerable to the lower ranking individual.”



What do you think?  Have you worked with leaders who have been able to model vulnerability, exhibit a willingness to learn, admit mistakes, and grow?  How do you demonstrate these qualities in the leadership roles that you assume?


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