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Celebrating Valentine’s Day (4 of 4) | The “V” in Valentines Stands for Vulnerable

How have we as a modern-day society come to accept superficial romantic symbolism in the forms of cartoon hearts and flowers as TRUE representations of love that can sometimes be best expressed as a sacrifice of our time, energy, and a willingness to be vulnerable?

The most effective leaders understand that it takes courage and bravery to be vulnerable enough to lead as the person she really is instead of leading as the title she holds or through simply symbolic actions. We have often heard the phrase “Oh, management just gives lip service to: insert (that expressed value; that new program, the goal of diversity and inclusion).” When that happens, we know we are losing followers and lowering investment in our company because WE, as leaders, are not investing our fullest selves and resources into the things we say we care about or want to prioritize.

This can look like a supposedly diverse-focused hiring process that still results in not much change because there is no real commitment, including skill-building, to ensure a successful hiring process with the desired result. This can look like hiring a diverse set of employees, but not providing resources for them that fosters inclusion and ensures their success -- and they leave. This can look like “We value open communication and shared decision-making” but having closed door decisions that are handed down with no room for discussion or feedback. All of these kinds of symbolic actions lead, again, to a divestment of energy and best efforts from employees, costing leaders and organizations time, money, people, and overall productivity.

So, for this month, think about how you approach the notion of a labor of love – for your organization, your employees and co-workers, and, yourself, as well. How can you build people up, serve them well as a leader and move beyond symbolic gestures to fuller and more effective leadership?

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