Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Opening the Kimono

A good friend of mine has this great expression he uses just before sharing something private or personal, “I am going to open the kimono here…”

One of my coaching clients was also struggling with being transparent about his true thoughts and feelings with me. And I understand it, because it feels scary and vulnerable to open that part of us up to someone else who will likely judge it and could exploit the information to use against us. And I loved his version of the kimono expression once he decided to be forthright with me: “It’s like when you have a new girlfriend and you just have to get naked in front of her for the first time and get it over with.”

I am personally learning some wonderful lessons in vulnerability from Brené Brown (http://www.brenebrown.com/about/) in my own life, and am encouraging leaders to use the concept of self storytelling in their daily work. When I suggest that they open up and be more authentic, imperfections and all, they hesitate.

Some leaders worry that they will be seen by their employees as vulnerable, weak, or flawed if they reveal that they need help or are struggling with self-doubt. Others resist the discomfort of sharing challenges because it comes with potential criticisms that can be painful or embarrassing. Some have decided that leadership is an ego game and they subconsciously avoid any risks to their appearance of confidence. And I will admit, the result of self-disclosure is often counter-intuitive. But, what most employees report to me is they most often respect and appreciate the leader who demonstrates the humility that comes with telling their story, good and bad, struggles and successes, even more.
Time to start telling your story.

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