DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Leadership and Vulnerability

Written by: on April 14, 2019

Brene Brown has touched the core of failure in our leadership. In her book “Dare to Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversation, Whole Hearts,”  she surprises many by encouraging them to learn how to fail and fall. She also introduces very well what breaks or build us strong is vulnerability. It is defined as the emotion that we experience during times of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.[1]  This speaks to many of us who are leaders and never want to show how vulnerable they are when things are not going on well. Brown, further explains that vulnerability is not winning or losing. It dares to show up when you cannot control the outcome.[2]

When African countries were struggling for independence from colonial governments, they spoke of freedom and equity for resources, access to equal use of some facilities and self-governance. The Tanzanian country under the leadership of president Julius Nyerere Kabarage as the first president, opted for a socialist type of governance so that everybody in Tanzania will have equal access to resources. People were grouped into smaller communities called “Ujamaa”. They stayed together, shared whatever they had together. Nobody owned anything for themselves, but whatever was available all shared. This affected the countries growth, and many people were discouraged with the practice of socialism that was not communism at all. Instead of the country growing as Kenya was growing, the country went down very fast in both economically and academically. It took the country many years until a time when the president showed remorsefulness and resigned from the presidency. In his speech of resignation, he owned up the failures of the system he had introduced and apologized to the nation for the wrong mistakes he had made by introducing the “Ujamaa” I see this turning point of President Nyerere and connect with what Brown says, vulnerability is not winning or losing. It dares to show up when you cannot control the outcome. This was a unique African president who owned up his mistakes and apologized to the people of Tanzania for misleading them. He accepted that his experiment on his people was unhealthy.

As a leader, I am challenged by Brown’s writing and using many different metaphors. She quotes what Campbell said, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”  we are always facing severe challenges and what most us would do is to keep off and confront the issues facing. Therefore, courageous leadership is ultimately about serving other people, not ourselves.[3]  This book makes feel that leadership has no master, but it is a learning process through the hard way especially leading people.

[1] Brown, Brené. Dare to Lead (p. 19). Random House Publishing Group 2018. Kindle Edition.

[2] Brown, Brené. Dare to Lead (p. 19). Random House Publishing Group 2018. Kindle Edition.

[3] (Brown 2018)

About the Author

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John Muhanji

I am the Director Africa Ministries Office of Friends United Meeting. I coordinate all Quaker activities and programs in the Quaker churches and school mostly in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The focus of my work is more on leadership development and church planting in the region especially in Tanzania.. Am married with three children all grown up now. I love playing golf as my exercise hobby. I also love reading.

2 responses to “Leadership and Vulnerability”

  1. mm Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    John,
    As always, thanks for helping me to understand the historical African context that you always speak to. How true, it is so rare that a leader will own their mistake (however well intentioned) and publicly admit and ask forgiveness for the impact of their mistake. I believe Brene Brown is on to something, leadership and vulnerability must proceed forward linked together. Thanks again for your insightful post!

  2. mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

    Powerful post, John. Thank you for the history lesson, as I learn so much from you about Africa and its history. Truly enlightening! I loved your quote from Campbell: “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” It is so often the truth, as our fear can often hold us back from finding our gifts – both for ourselves and for others. Thank you for sharing!

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