VulnerabilityMonster Challenge:

The world is all about change, including our workplaces, and most of that change requires employees to perform and think differently. To assist with personal transition and growth, Firm X created an Executive Coaching Program as a training and development benefit.  But surprisingly, several employees of Firm X have expressed their reluctance to participate; indicating working with a coach is somehow perceived as an undesirable consequence of underperformance or an indication of a weak style. However, the Firm X Program was based on research that is just the opposite.  Help! The Vulnerability Monster has a tight grip that is holding back some potentially great leaders.

Monster Taming Tips:

Understanding that we all learn differently and we don’t all need to improve the same skills, many organizations are implementing

[Executive and/or Career] Coaching programs.  They are a cost-effective way to provide personalized development benefits. However, developing an open and honest dialogue with a “stranger” about dreams, as well as vulnerabilities (which is essential to the program’s success), can be scary for some employees, or as several employees have expressed, perceived as a punishment.

And there it is – the crack in the door, just big enough for the Vulnerability Monster to squeeze through.  Unfortunately, when the Vulnerability Monster creates resistance to a coaching process, the individual misses out on stretching beyond his/her comfort zone, examining new perspectives, or taking difficult steps required to reach new goals. In other words, the Monster is blocking the ability to keep up with the changes that are happening all around.

Here are a few tips for engaging employees to embrace a different kind of learning opportunity, such as Executive Coaching.

Organizational Tips:

  • Create a culture that encourages and rewards behaviors associated with transparency, collaboration, and being who you are.
  • Conduct a pilot with employees agreeable to the coaching experience and allow them to market and demonstrate the benefits received.
  • Frequently communicate the why, how, and WIIFM (what’s in it for me) messages to dispel any perceptions of punishment.
  • Increase employee understanding of leadership style and competencies required for the future vs. the style and competencies of the past, which are quickly becoming irrelevant.

Employee Tips:

  • Increase your self-awareness and get clarity on who you are.  It’s easy to fall into habits that emulate the style of leaders we learned from. In today’s world, it’s important to be in touch with your uniqueness as a leader – and show up as yourself, not as your last mentor or supervisor.
  • Accept that no one is perfect. Find beauty in imperfection – Wabi-sabi
  • Practice gratitude and joy every day.  Don’t focus on the negative! Delight in the smallest gains, as well as the learnings resulting from disappointments.  As your appetite for appreciating what is offered to you grows, concerns and fears will decrease.
  • Ask yourself a few hard questions – and be honest with your answers:
    • What’s the worst thing that could happen if you work with a coach?
    • What could you gain from examining vulnerabilities and increasing connections with others?
    • What is the impact of continuing to avoid being a more authentic individual or leader?
  • Approach every day with grit – Accept the reality that some days will be sunnier than others.


Here are a few resources to assist with clarifying the relevance and rewards of a style that accepts vulnerability:

  1. Take a few minutes to watch Brene Brown, a researcher and thought-leader on vulnerability and authenticity in her TED Talk.  Per Ms. Brown, “Vulnerability is both the core of difficult emotions like fear, grief, and disappointment, but also the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, empathy, innovation, and creativity.
  2. Read Karissa Thacker’s book, The Art of Authenticity. Ms. Thacker is a workplace psychologist focused on elevating human performance.
  3. Read Patrick Lencioni’s book, Getting Naked. Mr. Lencioni is a management consultant and thought-leader on organizational health.

If the Vulnerability Monster has a hold on you be brave and break free in order to enjoy all that your personal and professional lives have to offer.  Coaching through an in-house program or on your own is, more often than not, a rewarding experience.

What’s your “monster” challenge? Send your brief description to If your monster is selected, we’ll send you a fun coloring book to help you relieve the stress this bad guy has caused you.