For the very first blog post here, I want to address my motivation.
A good friend of mine recently shared:
“I have always feared executives. They always have an agenda and they have the power to hurt me. I have trusted very few executives in my career.”
Can you relate to that?
If you are an executive or a manager of any kind, there is authority baked into your role, and that very authority all-too-easily gets in the way of our human relationships. People are conditioned to follow people in positions of labeled authority, whether it is in their best interest or not. While it is one thing to be followed, it is an entirely different thing to be trusted. Early on in our journey on The Progressive CIO, it bears noting that this dynamic will be at the very heart of our discussions.
The notion of vulnerability is something that springs to mind, and there is a reason that I list it first on the values that you see on this site.
We are born vulnerable, and if we are lucky enough to grow past childhood into adulthood, it is our very vulnerability that encourages others to protect us, to guide us, and to groom us.
As adults, when we see a young adult, our minds seem to appreciate the independence of the creature who stands before us. We do not attempt to steer or offer guidance to that person in the same way we would an infant. You must recall the feelings you sometimes have when you speak with young adults who think they “know it all” — you know that nothing you could offer will give them what time and experience will.
As we grow, others around us are much less likely to guide us in the way we were when we were young…when we were vulnerable.
But if we can show vulnerability to others as adults — as leaders — something remarkable happens. If I say to someone:
I am afraid of something.
I am lacking something.
I need help with something.
I am sad about something.
I am confused about something.
…what happens? Others are more likely to step in to help me and to guide me, and I stand a much better chance of learning something as a result. Why is that? Because humans are so well-conditioned to help others who are willing to show vulnerability and ask for help. It is immediately relatable, because inside, we are all filled with doubts. We too often hide those doubts in the interest of looking confident. But that gets us absolutely nowhere good and is, in fact, the ultimate manifestation of the lack of true self-confidence.
Truly self-confident people know who they are inside. They can admit when they do not know something because they are not ashamed of it. Most importantly, they know that if they expose those vulnerabilities, they are much more likely to learn and grow through the help of others.
The fear of executives — of anybody in a position of authority — has a clear mitigation strategy for those who are feared: Develop the ability to show vulnerability at the times you are feeling vulnerable. You will help others to do the same, it will be easier for others to come to trust you, and you will see remarkable results in your teams, from those who elicit software requirements to those who provide help desk support. You will spark a chain reaction that will bring joy to those who you serve. We’ll talk in great depth about this in posts to come.
My angle for The Progressive CIO is to provide thoughtful discussions in print form that can be shared, digested, and considered by teams of technology leaders as they face their own challenges. The goal is to build a central repository of information that is easily available to help foster what I believe is a more rewarding approach to technology leadership.
🎹 Music for this post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7etn2czISU