From an early age, men are taught to view vulnerability as a weakness. ‘Be strong’, ‘man up’ and ‘win at all costs’ are common phrases in society.
Men quickly learn that to share or own up to difficult emotions will expose them, particularly in a tough business environment. Far better to ignore, deny or repress fears and anxieties and go it alone in a culture of rugged individualism.
These modern myths are turning up the heat on the pressure cooker. Many men and their organisations are unaware of the impact of traditional male conditioning on performance, the collateral damage to others and the hurt being caused to men themselves.
On 31st October we hosted a breakfast event at our Head Office in Knightsbridge to discuss this topic with a select group of business leaders. With special thanks to Anthony Lobo (Partner, KPMG) who opened the discussion with his own story, the group was then invited to share their own experiences and thoughts.
“Incredibly useful and thought provoking discussion that underpinned the need for individuals to be open and honest and build trust from the onset with their teams through showing what values they hold and sharing their journey…’
Jane Shannon – Head of L&D for UK & Ireland, G4S
Our own coaching experience, backed by what little academic and anecdotal research is currently available, tells us that an unwillingness or inability to be vulnerable diminishes a male leader’s capability to respond effectively to situations they perceive as threatening to their ego or sense of self. The result can be chauvinistic behaviours that block high performance of self and others.
High performance and effective leadership requires interpersonal skills that can only be developed by exploring one’s own vulnerability: e.g. emotional intelligence, self-awareness, connection, collaboration, compassion, empathy, creativity and innovation.
And what about the effects of traditional male conditioning on mental health?
Anxiety and depression in men is increasing and suicide is now the biggest killer of males under 50. The business cost of male stress is accelerating; and the ‘collateral damage’ from macho behaviours in the workplace limits the long-term success of diversity and inclusion programs.
The Preston Associates has created a core program designed to develop leaders that consciously understand the importance of embracing vulnerability in driving greater business performance, wellbeing and inclusion.
The surprising strength of vulnerability is the key to developing exceptional leaders for the future.
Just to say a big thank you for today’s breakfast, very inspirational and thought provoking, and great to meet you and your colleagues.
Susie Moore – Director, Brandplay. Former Head of Brand, O2
For more information on the work we do at The Preston Associates, on this topic or others, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org