Are you ready to be vulnerable?

                    Kelley W. Powell

Kelley W. Powell

Sep 4, 2019

Are you ready to be vulnerable?
Allow yourself to hear the things you may not want to hear

I am asking you as a leader, are you willing to have an open and honest engagement for the benefit of your team, your clients, and the success of your business?

To truly excel as a leader one must listen and engage. Doing so may make you feel vulnerable and this emotion, that we tend to avoid, can be one of your greatest strengths if you can listen to what it is telling you.


At the heart of any meaningful engagement is trust. To show trust, honesty and authenticity we must be willing to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable is often associated with weakness and depending on the context, it usually is.

Trust is earned by creating an environment where it can flourish. To create an open environment to learn from others means it must also be a safe place where the group commits to one another the permission to be completely open and honest. Even better is an environment where all can learn while having a bit of fun.

This is something you simply cannot will into existence. You cannot simply say, this is a trusting environment and suddenly everyone embraces the idea. You have to lead. Lead by example. Show your trust and vulnerability. Trust is a funny emotion; The more you show it, the stronger it grows.

I am sure you have heard the school myth that the person in charge has all the answers. They must show strength and never let slip any weakness or doubt. We all know in our hearts that this is nonsense, but yet, when we find ourselves in a position of leadership, we hold onto that old stereotype and before we know it, we have shut down all avenues of constructive feedback.


It takes courage to ask for help and input. Courage, like trust, is a two way street. You must first be willing to have the courage to receive the feedback/input and likewise, the person addressing you must have the courage to pose the question in the first place.

Are you ready to be vulnerable?
Photo by Kristina Paparo on Unsplash

Forget the cliche “open door policy” that most leaders like to trip off their tongue. When was the last time you had someone come in through that door, with the courage to tell you what was on their heart? If they did, what response did you give? Was it opening and encouraging for them to do it again should the need arise?


Having the trust and courage is more than being able to connect and build a good relationship with your team. It is about looking outwards, whether that is family, friends, or even clients and providers.

We have to be willing to accept the things that we do not want to hear and resist the urge to blame the messenger, listen and act upon it accordingly. That might be an employee looking to make things better, to a client describing an issue. They may have a point, they may not, but always assume their intentions are good and have the courage to listen — it will most likely take you out of your comfort zone.

Show that their courage to bring the matter to your attention was well placed and you have taken it on board. Now you have created a bond that will only grow stronger and you as a leader will benefit from it.


How many times have you found yourself benefiting from an answer to a question you did not have the courage to ask? Or maybe, you were the one with the courage to make a positive impact in the life of someone else more hesitant to ask a question.

Try and recognize the next time you have an opportunity to show your courage. It is amazing the true learning and growth that happens in moments where we allow ourselves the gift to be vulnerable.

Do Not Wait

Let me bring it back a little closer to the leaders of portfolios with whom I have the honor to serve. Newly admitted into the private equity world, they suddenly find themselves in an unknown space, with a new level of responsibility and reporting above them. Their loyal team of employees are looking for guidance through this period, while they themselves are trying to figure it out. It can feel lonely at the top.

This is their time to shine. The leaders that succeed are the ones that recognize that their private equity partners, are just that — partners. They want and need their leaders to succeed. Leaders that have the courage to be vulnerable and ask questions of their partners, clients, and employees are the ones more likely to succeed.

Asking for help is not a weakness. Asking for help is strength in leadership. Do not wait for someone else to ask the question on your behalf — have the courage and trust to step up and inspire others.

At MacLaurin Group we host an Intimate Conversation Series to allow guests the opportunity for meaningful engagement on issues and topics where candor, authenticity, and taking a deeper dive is best accomplished in a smaller, more intimate setting. Courage and trust is earned, as our invited speakers from the world of private equity take the questions others are scared to ask. If you are an entrepreneur or founder, then reach out to inquire about joining our series.