Authenticity is a broken concept. What leaders preach and the reality of day-to-day are very different. The more vulnerable an executive allows herself to be (within reason) the more positivity they create around them. I believe this results in the truest, deepest and greatest success.
They need a high level of emotional intelligence for this to work. Everything boils down to vulnerability.
Let me share a story about vulnerability:
In early September of 2011 my wife and I were watching television, when we heard a guttural cry from upstairs. Immediately knowing that something was wrong, we ran up the steps. I threw open the door to their room and found our 9-month-old daughter Olivia in the throws of a seizure.
Our three-year-old Talia was out of her bed now watching my wife and I interact and attempt to make sense of what was happening. I scooped Olivia up from her Crib and held her. I wasn't sure what was happening to her. I shouted to my wife to call 911.
My daughter started to cry, and so did my wife. I felt the urge to cry myself. I didn't know what was happening to Olivia, and I didn't know how to fix it.
In a moment of clarity I decided to run outside with the baby. I say clarity because at that moment I thought she was about to die. I couldn't tell if she was breathing. She was unresponsive to me, and although my wife had said that she was seizing, I had no proof that she was in fact having a seizure.
All I knew is that her body was limp like a rag doll, her head was bobbing and wouldn't stabilize, and her eyelids were half open. Her body was on fire - so hot!
At that moment I thought that my daughter would die in my arms in front of my wife and child. I decided to walk outside with her, so that they wouldn't have to witness her death and that I would be there with her, holding her.
I burst out our front door and ran into the street looking for the Ambulance. I waved them down. They came into the house and began to assess what was happening with her. Lying her down on my couch they gave her oxygen and asked us questions about the evening. Concluding that she must have had a febrile seizure.
In a moment of levity a police officer looked at me, noticed that I had sweat through my clothing completely. Then said "sir, we only have enough oxygen for your daughter, we need you to calm down."
Thankfully Olivia was fine, and she's outgrown her seizures.
We all got back to our normal lives, and things began to feel like normal.
Then a few days later on September 11th of 2011, I began seeing coverage of the 10th anniversary of September 11th. Watching television I heard the name of the captain of my Loyola College rugby team Sean Lugano, and I wept.
Sean was reported missing on September 11, 2001 from World Trade Center 2. He was 28 years old. Sean was a stockbroker with KBW. I remember the devastation of the news of Sean missing 10 years prior, but yet this time it felt even more profound.
I think perhaps it's because at that point, ten years later I was a lucky guy. I had a gorgeous wife, two beautiful and healthy children, and I felt angry. Angry that Sean would never have that experience and upset, that his parents had lost their child that day.
Experiencing for only 2 minutes what the Lugano family had dealt with for ten years. It was a profound reminder how fragile life is, and how strong this family was after losing Sean.
I decided that I would allow myself to be vulnerable and share my thoughts on the matter. I admitted on my blog that I had cried when I learned of Sean's murder.
What happened next changed altered my view of vulnerability. By letting down my guard, and sharing a raw and profound moment for my family, I felt a wave of warmth, love and support like I could have never imagined.
An outpouring of fond memories of Sean, and a full onslaught of love for our family and for Olivia ensued. Beautiful.
Have you ever allowed yourself to be vulnerable?