Vulnerability is Power

“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability … To be alive is to be vulnerable.”

~ Madeleine L’Engle

Vulnerability is Power

By Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas

“The idea of being vulnerable is anathema to many. If you’re a man, you may feel you’re expected to be strong. Showing vulnerability is not what you signed up for. On the other hand, if you’re a woman, you may be consciously trying to avoid the stereotype that woman are more emotional than men. Being vulnerable doesn’t have to mean collapsing in a heap or admitting to everyone around you that you feel inadequate.

For example, all of the following 15 actions are very appropriate and productive ways of demonstrating emotional openness and the vulnerability that can accompany it:

  1. Say you’re sorry.
  2. Admit you’re wrong.
  3. Empathize.
  4. Ask for help.
  5. Talk about how you feel-not just what you think-about an important issue.
  6. Compliment someone.
  7. Admit to a failure.
  8. Ask for advice.
  9. Use humor-joke about yourself.
  10. Share problems.
  11. Express heartfelt condolences if needed.
  12. Share personal issues as appropriate.
  13. Help someone else succeed.
  14. Be honest.
  15. Acknowledge others’ contributions (pg. 101). “

From: Sobel, A. and Panas, J. (2014). Power Relationships: 26 Irrefutable Laws for building Extraordinary Relationships

Reprinted with permission from the OSU Leadership Center, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, (614) 292-3114,


Do you agree with the authors that vulnerability is a leadership strength to develop? Please weigh in below.