A Salute to the Courage of Vulnerable Leaders

Guest Correspondence

BY JENNIFER VIGNE SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY SEP 5, 2020

This week I witnessed vulnerability in action in our community, and it left me in awe. Admittedly, vulnerability is not my strong suit, so I often embrace those teachable moments when I can learn from others about how to become more vulnerable.

I think the author, Brené Brown, is accurate when she says, “We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we’re afraid to let them see it in us.”

Good, bad or indifferent, we live in a society where leaders must display confidence, strength and resolute determination. “Onward to victory” is our standard leadership battle cry.

Yet, as we have endured the past six months with great uncertainty and enormous fluidity, I have come to appreciate the immense value in being vulnerable.

Vulnerability, essentially, is a position of risk.

It’s putting yourself out there without the shield of self-protection. It’s admitting a fear, acknowledging that you don’t have the answer, or exposing your deepest hurts.

 As Brené Brown goes on to say, “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”

As we wrestle with life’s challenges—and boy, there are plenty!—I want to salute the courageous leaders in our midst.

Sarasota County just completed its first week of school and I saw vulnerability at every turn.

If you’re a parent who just sent your child to school while still weighing the agonizing decision of in-person instruction or remote learning; or you’re a teacher who made the difficult decision to retire early due to compromised health; or you’re a school bus driver who has little choice but to show up since you’re a sole provider—thank you for your courageous leadership.

If you’re a veteran teacher who postponed retirement to help fill the gap; or you’re a first-year teacher learning the usual new career ropes while navigating through this most unusual time; or you’re an avowed non-techie who spent the summer incorporating new technology with your teaching style so you’d be effective for online learner—thank you for your courageous leadership.  

We will continue to navigate uncertainty for a while, so we need to adopt an infinite mindset that opens the door to more opportunities to be courageous leaders—opportunities we might overlook if we don’t remain vulnerable.

Jennifer Vigne is president and CEO of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County.

Click for more about the Education Foundation of Sarasota County

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