Leading Wide Open
Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. Dare to lead wide opened!
Leading wide open takes courage, wisdom, and heart. Courage to walk into uncharted territories that may not make sense but trusting in the outcome no matter how it unfolds. Wisdom to uncover one’s real potential which begins with the discovery of limitations and having the courage to process through them. The heart is the most critical leadership tool to have for “the heart is a muscle, and you strengthen muscles by using them.” The more leaders led with their heart, the stronger it becomes. With these three characteristics in hand, any leaders can confidently embrace their great adventure into the Leadership Expedition Unknown.
“As you think about your own path to daring leadership, remember Joseph Campbell’s wisdom: ‘The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.’ Own the fear, find the cave, and write a new ending for yourself, for the people you’re meant to serve and support, and for your culture. Choose courage over comfort. Choose whole hearts over armor. And choose the great adventure of being brave and afraid. At the exact same time.”
Most look at leadership as a powerful tool to make people do things they want, like a dictatorship. Conversely, good leadership is and will always be relational. Leadership is the primary vehicle used to move people from one level to another, “finding the potential in people and process,” and have the “courage to develop that potential.” Effective leaders walk their leadership journey alongside others instead of leading from the front while waving for others to follow behind.
Think of leadership more like a partnership. Partnerships there are levels of shared responsibility, ownership, experiences, and goals between both parties. An exchange occurs in leadership roles. It also mandates a level of transparency. Nevertheless, to be transparent one must be vulnerable. In leadership, however, vulnerability is not often an attribute that many will not engage. Being vulnerable permits others to see our weaknesses, our fears, our disappointments, our hurts and usually time our shame. The tendency to even see vulnerability as a weakness is quite apparent in leadership, especially in ministry leadership roles. Consequently, Brene Brown suggested through her books on leadership that “vulnerability is not a weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”
Despite this, leaders should not commit to systematic vulnerability just for the sake of vulnerability. A leaders vulnerability allows for connectivity to take place with those under them. The stories and experiences of leaders shared amongst their team provides opportunities to exemplify compassion, empathy, authenticity, and a culture of trust. It grants leaders the ability to effectively articulate the vision of the future while challenging people to grow and change. It contributes to an atmosphere which allows broken relationships to mend and to confront problems. With this leadership tool, leaders can go entirely into hard places instead of just having conversations about hard places.
Vulnerability in leadership is not a simple task; leaders have to commit to the following to effectively lead. (BRAVING: The Autonomy of Trust – Brene Brown)
- Boundaries: Set appropriate boundaries of what is okay and what is not okay
- Reliability: Be reliable, balance priorities, know your strength and limitations and only commit to what you can and are willing to do.
- Accountability: Own your mistakes and make amends when needed.
- Vault: Do not disclose experiences and information that is not yours to share.
- Integrity: Be integral at all times choosing right over comfort.
- Nonjudgement: Share feeling with others in a nonjudgemental environment.
- Generosity: Express generous interpretation of intention, words, and actions of others.
Vulnerability in leadership is terrifying because it gives others access to an area that is not easily accessible or given over to exposure for others to see. Acknowledge that “fear is always with us.” Leaders have to move “it to the passenger seat and not the driver’s seat” to push forward the vehicle of leadership and camaraderie.
Leaders who lead wide open should accept the totality of the leadership journey and be willing to share not only their vision but also their vulnerability with others. Leaders have to realize “the irony is that we attempt to disown our difficult stories to appear more whole or more acceptable, but our wholeness-even our wholeheartedness-actually depends on the integration of all our experiences, including our falls.” Besides people want to follow leaders who are open, honest, inclusion in their leadership approach and are fully disclosed.
 Angela Ruth, “Ralph Waldo Emerson – Forging Your Own Path,” Due.com, August 28, 2015, https://due.com/blog/ralph-waldo-emerson-forging-your-own-path/.
 Mark Miller, The Heart of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2013), 30.
 Brené Brown, Dare to Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts (New York: Random House, 2018), 272.
 Ibid. 4
 Brene Brown, Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead(New York: Penguin Random House LLC, 2017), 4.
 Mark Miller, The Heart of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2013), 58.
 Brené Brown, Dare to Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts (New York: Random House, 2018), 225-226.
 Jeremy Courtney, “Catalyst ATL 2017: Profile of Courage” (lecture, Infinite Energy Center, Atlanta, GA, October 5, 2017)
 Brene Brown, Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead(New York: Penguin Random House LLC, 2017), 43.
4 responses to “Leading Wide Open”
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Love the quote you used, Shermika. It’s helpful to see the choices, right? Courage or comfort? This is a tough one for me but when I consider what I really want from my life, courage makes more sense than comfort. Appreciate you!
Thank you so much for the feedback. The first time I heard that statement “courage over comfort” years ago, it was hard to grasp. However, as I continued on this leadership journey of mine, it became more evident and I even began to see areas in which I had already implemented this quote in my life. It amazing that God never intended for us to be comfortable, He intended for us to be courageous world changers.
Shermika, I love the quote that whole-heartedness actually depends on the integration of all our experiences, including our falls. Most of us want to hide our falls, at least I do. I think this is something that we need to be reminded of. A friend of mine wrote a song called Tapestry of Praise. In writing this song, he talked about the backside of a tapestry and how it does not look good, but when you put it all together, it is a beautiful tapestry, and that is what God is doing in each of us. Thank you for the reminder. Blessings!
Thanks for sharing, Shermika. What an amazing post! I love the quote that “that we attempt to disown our difficult stories to appear more whole or more acceptable, but our wholeness-even our wholeheartedness-actually depends on the integration of all our experiences, including our falls.” This packs a powerful punch, as it is through our experiences that our perceptions are formed and our personalities are created. Thanks for sharing your blog, Shermika. It was detailed and clarifying in the most positive way!