How Does Authority Fit With Being Vulnerable With Your People?

Ah vulnerability.

We expect it from our clients but we fear it in ourselves.

As advisors and authority builders, we’re taught that success is about how smart we are, not how human we are.

Until we learn otherwise.

Years ago, I was treated to a humbling reminderwhen I  visited a client’s office for the first time. I arrived in typical consultant fashion, agenda in hand, ready to rock ‘n roll.

The client however, had decided he’d like to treat me like HIS client so he could show me how his process worked from the inside out.

After a brief explanation, he handed me some worksheets. They required me to think deeply on a highly personal subject and write down my reactions (pretty much EXACTLY what I ask my own clients to do when we start).

Thankfully, I managed to swallow the irony and surrender to the moment.

He wound up giving me the very human experience of being heard, seen and understood. We bonded deeper than we ever had before.

Being vulnerable as a “client” was a visceral reminder that we advisor types routinely ask our people to share their pain points, their secrets and their dreams.

We expect them to be vulnerable. We expect them to trust us.

We expect a lot.

Which is why we are honor-bound to create the conditions for both parties to tell the truth with courage.

And this is every bit as important when building authority online with an audience.

Think about that for a sec.

As you look to the voices of authority you trust the most, haven’t they demonstrated some form of relatable vulnerability? (we’re not talking about the “influencers” who tell their rags to riches story over and over again.)

The authorities we respect tell us about their experiments that didn’t work:

What happened when they tried to prove a key plank in their belief system—and couldn’t.

When they put a pile of their marbles on a bet that didn’t pay off.

How it felt to be wrong in a very public way.

Overcoming extreme fear to publish a startling new idea.

They talk about their work failures at the very least—and some of the best weave in their personal experiences now and then.

The bottom line for authority building is this: don’t be afraid to share your vulnerability when your intention is serving your audience.

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