Vulnerability and Culture Change

A few years ago we initiated a culture change program with a group of surgeons. In successive cohorts we exposed them to the concepts of positive leadership and asked them to engage in experiences that required new behaviors and produced new understanding. Recently a colleague sent me an informal report on the outcomes. Participants were asked to reflect upon the entire process and share their insights.

One of the surgeons claimed that the most important session was not his favorite session because it made him uncomfortable. He said, “I was uncomfortable with being vulnerable and sharing core stories, and uncomfortable because I realized what it meant to be a real leader. It was scary to be confronted by how far I was from that ideal. This was the most important session because it changed how I think about my colleagues and changed how I think about myself as a leader and the growth I need.”

Another wrote of the same session. “It taught us how to be vulnerable with our peers, and helped us see how that builds trust. That session and experience gave us permission to develop deeper relationships with our peers, which built over the program as we continued to work in small groups.”

 

Reflection

What conventional beliefs lead us to avoid vulnerability?

Why is vulnerability a hallmark of authentic leadership?

Why is vulnerability necessary to cultural change?

How could you use this passage to create a more positive organization?

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