ANYONE NOT COMFORTABLE WITH VULNERABILITY – BUCKLE UP BECAUSE IT’S COMING FOR YOU
I began 2020 saying I was going to explore being vulnerable online. I said because I teach about the importance of vulnerability as the foundation of any high-performance team, we would all have to learn HOW TO BE VULNERABLE. Not just know cognitively that we should try and be more emotionally intelligent. We use words and make statements like ‘social intelligence’, ‘agile leadership’, ‘VUCA World’ and what do they mean? How do they relate to the closing thought you have at night? What mood do you generally wake up in? Have you ever considered the impact you have on others? Because that’s leadership.
THERE’S BRAIN SCIENCE TO PROVE IT!
There is now neuroscientific research to prove somatic intelligence (our body’s intelligence). We now know that the solar plexus is a huge muscle supporting massive amounts of electromagnetic current from the billions of neurons clustered around the middle of your chest. Your heart literally controls the entire system of your extraordinary body. Your heart can sense other electromagnetic fields (i.e. other beings) up to 5 meters away. Children (and animals) are very attuned to this. Adults could be if we were not all playing games with ourselves and others in our heads and egos, with separate agendas from one another that are focused on‘watching my back’ and winning. No wonder most of us have to get addicted to a patterned or ‘typed’ way of being that then causes us a whole lot of suffering and quite frankly limits our potential.
WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT GOING ONLINE WOULD BRING SUCH VULNERABILITY?
It does not surprise me. Online is very intimate. Intimacy brings up vulnerability. I cannot think of anything in my career that has been as exposing of incompetency’s, inconsistencies and insecurities as going online! Talk about work-life integration. Everyone now knows how we eat our lunch and what our child’s bedroom looks like (it took some getting used to talking about hard financial concerns with someone sitting in front of a My Little Ponies’ rainbow wallpaper, right?).
CLICKS’ UNFORGIVABLE DISASTER THIS WEEK IS A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF VULNERABILITY
Click’s advert gone viral this week is so appalling and shockingly unbelievably revolting and ridiculous that I honestly thought it must be hackers trying to tarnish the company’s reputation. I mean, seriously? This advert is so wackily perverse I still cannot believe what CEO, Vikesh Ramsunder is saying. That five adult employees of mixed-race groups signed off this advert?
I have to wonder that 5 adult employees would mess with HAIR? We all know after lockdown that hair is a ‘THING’. We all know that hair is a ‘THING’ for women and that hair is a ‘BIG THING’ for black women. Hair is even a symbol of sacred rituals in all cultures. Hair is such a huge part of the female and male identity and there are so many emotional attachments to our unexamined identities that I am not the Clicks brand will EVER recover from this completely. Especially now, right off the back of ‘BlackLivesMatter’. As I write this, 600 stores been closed, affecting how many jobs. The EFF are enraged; and fueling already smoldering rage. It’s kind of terrifying. As a global community we were already of edge, this is frighteningly fragile. This is vulnerability on every level. Individually and as a collective, socially, economically and politically.
When questioned by the media as to HOW this happened Mr. Ramsunder is saying two things:
1) Junior employees were responsible and have been suspended. He actually said ‘no senior managers were involved in this’ on eNCANews;
2) It was TRESemme’s advert and digital marketing is new to Clicks.
I did also hear him talk about things like ‘unconscious bias’, which if that is the case, his organization needs a major overhaul in terms of its culture. Personally, I find it hard to believe that 5 adults living in the world today did not find that advert offensive, no matter what race or generation they are.
My problem with Mr. Ramsunder’s response is that he doesn’t have his employees’ or his supplier’s back; and so as a customer, why would I have his back? I don’t. Sorry Mr. Ramsunder, you going to have to do better than apologize and talk for a minute about unconscious bias, which you still have, towards your position. NEVER, throw the little guy under the bus, because the little guy in your business gets to decide whether or not your business survives.
THE POWER AND EXPOSURE OF OUR NOW ONLINE LIFE MEANS POSITIONAL POWER NO LONGER HAS AS MUCH POWER
I think that Clicks is just the beginning. Our online life is so exposing that there is nothing to be done now but to take personal mastery, self-esteem and the principles of Kind-Leadership seriously. By cognitively I don’t mean read about leadership, I mean practice leadership. Do practices to develop and increase your leadership muscle. If you are a decision maker or influencer of others at all, my sense is that you need to be actively influencing a kind of organizational culture where loyalty and personal integrity are instilled and practiced by every employee and consultant.
I look back now and I wonder what drew me to explore being comfortable with ‘being seen’ online - because none of us predicted just how online we would all be. Before 15 March 2020 none of us really knew what vulnerability even was unless we had studied it as much as Brene Brown. One cannot know until one knows, and that’s the thing about being a leader. Despite the endless quest for preparation and predictability, one thing COVID has taught me is that we can’t ever really be prepared for anything, ever.