Richard Branson – What Separates Great Leaders from The Pack Comes Down to One Word

Billionaire Richard Branson Says What Separates Great Leaders From The Pack Really Comes Down to 1 Word One of the biggest myths surrounding this leadership strength is that it’s a sign of weakness.



One of the factors behind ineffective leadership is that person’s inability to display the strength of the most exceptional leaders: Vulnerability.



There’s immense power in being openly vulnerable. It allows a leader to emotionally connect with employees. And when employees connect above the neck with their leaders, they will walk through walls for them.



Billionaire Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin, is well-known for vulnerability. He once said, “Transparency, straightforwardness and simplicity are true to the Virgin way of doing business.”



In their research, leadership experts Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones describe Branson as being particularly effective at communicating his vulnerability. “He is ill at ease and fumbles incessantly when interviewed in public. It’s a weakness, but it’s Richard Branson,” state the authors.



“That’s what revealing a weakness is all about: Showing your followers that you are genuine and approachable – human and humane.”



Best-selling author and researcher Dr. Brené Brown says vulnerability is “the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” Her historic and viral Ted Talk, The Power of Vulnerability, has already solidified the importance of vulnerability in the workplace and how critical it is for leaders to connect with and inspire others.



One of the biggest myths surrounding vulnerability is that it’s a sign of weakness in the leadership realm. In her research, Brown says that vulnerability is not a weakness but one of our most accurate measures of courage.



She tells Inc.’s Leadership Forum a few years back, “I cannot find a single incident of courage that is not completely underpinned by vulnerability … Think about the last time you saw someone do something that was brave and I guarantee you vulnerability will be there.”



3 ways to increase the practice of vulnerability


Vulnerability, at its core, is about developing trust – the backbone of successful leadership. Employees and leaders who trust one another learn to be comfortable being open to one another about their failures, weaknesses and even fears.



Since vulnerability – like any other leadership behavior – takes practice, here are three ways to help you to do it:



1. Be willing to ask for help


Vulnerable leaders have no qualms about knowing everything or having all the answers. They don’t pretend to be “the expert”. They leverage the skills of their knowledge workers on the frontlines and ask for their help.



When you start asking your employees for help, a funny thing happens: They’ll want to step up and help, and it spreads outwardly. Your workforce’s loyalty and commitment will rise.



2. Share personal stories about making mistakes


Personal stories will let your people know that you are human and imperfect just like the rest of them. By sharing the mistakes you’ve made and the lessons you learned from them, people will no longer fear and hide when they make theirs.



Story-telling as an authentic human lets your tribe know you’ve been in their shoes and helps you connect emotionally with them.



3. Commit to your promises


Failure to be your word and follow through on your promises may lead to people questioning your integrity and reliability. For example, ever trust a person who lets you down a number of times? It’s usually a reflection of character.



Vulnerable and authentic leaders do what they say they’re going to do – it’s a matter of integrity. Their word means something to them and they don’t take it lightly.



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