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Leaders who show vulnerability build the strongest teams, with Johanne Lavoie

Leading teams through transformations is uncomfortable. Johanne's experiences at McKinsey help her challenge leaders to embrace discomfort.

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Johanne helps senior teams identify and navigate growing complexity.

We must grow as people and leaders.

Growth happens when we tackle complex problems that exceed our current problem-solving models and skills. During times of personal or professional crisis, our capacity to embrace complexity expands, pushing us to practice new behaviors and mindsets that deepen  self-awareness.

Hold onto complexity. 

The work of senior leaders is inherently complex. Leaders must resist the temptation to control, reduce and simplify problems. Learning to “swim at the edge of uncertainty” by listening, asking questions, and embracing experimentation helps leaders thrive in new organizational contexts.

Listen to the resistance. 

During any organizational change there will be resistance. Labeling it as a dysfunction, though tempting, won’t serve the change. Instead, leaders should embrace resistance as a sign that something important is being protected or considered, and ask what they are really trying to solve. Delving into the messiness of the issue and openly listening to resistance is the best way to engage people in change and shift their energy.

Self-awareness is foundational. 

Training and skill development needs to be balanced with reflection and feedback to fuel leaders’ self-awareness, or as Johanne labels it, ‘doing the inner work of leadership development.’ This awareness helps leaders leverage their natural strengths to collaborate.

Vulnerability increases engagement. 

Environments that meet basic needs like trust and belonging unlock energy that might otherwise go into managing tensions, vying for positions, and protecting egos. When everyone is comfortable being themselves at work and trusts their team, they will invest their energy in work. This approach unlocks potential in the existing workforce and fuels motivation and productivity.

Behavior change in leaders is crucial. 

Agile development involves a series of behavior shifts that enable structural changes. Success requires leaders to role model the changes they want to see, both in terms of behavior and mindset. Being transparent about one’s fears and feelings injects humility into the team and will help employees on their own journey of change.