My name is Alex Scoville and I am a young digital journalist with a passion for telling local news in innovative ways. I believe multimedia storytelling can better and challenge the communities they cover by enhancing even the smallest stories with compelling visuals and interactive content. I am currently the arts and entertainment co-editor with the hyper local, student-run publication the Downtown Devil.
I’ve always been a sensitive person. I cry a lot for a lot of reasons: sad movies, sprawling landscapes, the kindness of friends, piles of homework. I’m prone to bouts of hand-wringing anxiety over the smallest details. Even though I’m always worried that I talk too much, I’m really most comfortable listening to another person speak.
For all these reasons and more, I thought my sensitivity and vulnerability would forever close me off to leadership. To me from the past, leaders were stony individuals with no time for tears. I was meant to be a follower.
I no longer think that. I’m even a little ashamed that it took so long for me to see that I basically imagined leaders as salty sea captains.
A leader definitely has to be strong, but now I know strength doesn’t come from a hard heart. It comes from vulnerability.
Being vulnerable allows a person to be empathetic, sensitive, a listener, willing to adapt. I think it even encourages creativity in leaders. These sensitive commanders can build relationships with their followers and understand what they want. They’re able to change as needed to execute forward-thinking goals. Great leaders probably spent time as great followers—not because they’re just waiting to conquer the throne, but because they enjoyed excelled in that role.
There are obviously down sides (not every leader is perfect). Tearing up on a daily basis and second-guessing every decision are the flip side of the vulnerability coin. Self doubt is healthy in small doses, because it encourages self reflection, but a good leader should still be confident because of, not in spite of, their sensitivity.
So grab that handkerchief and open hearts and ears—your peers could need a softie like you.