Brene Brown has almost become a household name for those on a personal or corporate development pilgrimage. A foray into the journal of leadership credibility was facilitated by her first-ever TED talk, detailing the power of vulnerability. Being a professional researcher of that very topic, the presentation not only became a great source of hope for many but also prepared her personally for life in the public eye and the subsequent barrage of criticism that comes with it. When creating new, improved and alternate futures, leaders commonly find themselves up against a ‘discerning’ audience and overt criticism and opposition. Brene highlights what can help a leader remain focused, committed and ‘on track’.
1. don’t buy into a critic’s story
Early in my career, a misalignment became evident with my egocentric leader, a man determined to show the company that I, and the future my department was building, did not deserve credibility (even though he hired me; go figure!) I made the fatal mistake of buying this story; inner battles ensued, and came to an explosive and ugly finish in front of a 600-strong audience. This happened for only one reason: I reinforced the story he was telling! I became the actor he needed for juicy viewership and subsequently sold myself out of the game.
2. be clear on your story
At the conference that ultimately became the final humiliation, he strategically positioned himself where all attendees had full access to his disapproving body language, overt and visual criticism. That was his story; where had mine gone?
3. Invite the critic into YOUR story
Had the picture of the future been compelling enough, would others have even been interested in his antics? What could have happened if I not only delivered the purlitzer of presentations as I was often revered for, but also invited him in as a key ambassador? Could this then provide him a backstage pass into MY arena. That would surely have increased my vulnerability levels, yet according to Brene, without vulnerability, you cannot innovate nor live in true alignment with your values.
4. keep adding chapters – you have the pen in your hand!
With courage and conviction, continue the mission; keep extending the story and reinforcing the good that it will bring. When efforts feel aligned and ‘in service’, no critic or criticism will ever be able to permeate!