High Performance Vulnerability

Read Time: 2 minutes

Adam Loong | November 16th, 2021


Creating a culture of continuous improvement requires a healthy dose of vulnerability

"High Performance Vulnerability" are three words not usually heard together however, displaying vulnerability is a common characteristic shared amongst high performing teams across a diverse range of fields from business to sports, military, surgery and the arts. High Performance teams live by a culture of continuous improvement. A continuous improvement culture says much more about a team than just the simple fact that everyone is always trying to improve. A continuous improvement culture means that everybody displays vulnerability, they are not frightened to demonstrate self-deprecation and the ensuing result is world class performance.

Every workplace can engage a culture of continuous improvement through the simple (ok maybe it’s not that simple) act of demonstrating vulnerability. The three characteristics that must be in place for this to be successful throughout the organisation are:

1.      The senior leadership must be on board with the concept (duh!).

2.      The organisation’s values are known, valid and believed.

3.      Leadership at every level is valued and therefore nurtured.

Establishing these three norms is the hardest part. The demonstration of vulnerability is actually very easy. It simply relies on honesty, and it must start from the leader. A comment such as “I always find this tough”, or “I could have done this better” will reveal to team members that they are also allowed to demonstrate vulnerability and honesty. At this point real leadership can commence whereby the leader can actively assist and coach towards success. The leader will often need to lean upon their own leader for assistance, but given the trustworthy culture instilled within the organisation, this is a natural occurrence.

deBa was developed as a leadership tool to enable organisational wide focus on leadership at every level. It is inspired by the debriefing process that is commonplace for Fighter Pilots (not to mention many other high-performance organisations). Successful debriefing requires leaders and followers to be equally vulnerable, hence enabling a level of trust that ensures fixes and improvements are developed and shared quickly and efficiently.

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