What Kind of Leadership?

Charlene Norman
3 min readApr 28, 2024


Warning. This opinion piece is a rant.

Brene Brown is wrong to advocate her brand of vulnerability for senior organizational leaders. In the eyes of their team, customers, and shareholders, following this woman’s ideas sets every senior leader up for failure.

Vulnerability means ‘the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.’ ACH! I’ve never met a leader of solid substance who would dream of opening themselves up to being attacked or harmed.

Simply wearing the cape called Leader is a very public and open invitation to be attacked. Every. Single. Day.

In her book Daring Greatly, Brené Brown describes vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” It’s that unstable feeling we get when we step out of our comfort zone or do something that forces us to loosen control.

Unfortunately, this has encouraged the non-leader population to focus on the ‘force us to loosen control’ bit as the only thing a good leader does when being vulnerable. AND fall under the spell of ‘when we think of times that we have felt vulnerable or emotionally exposed, believing we are recalling times of great courage.’


None of us want to see our leaders act vulnerable. We want to see them act confidently. And to be fair, we’d all like to see less ego and a little more humility. (Humility is “to have a modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness.”)

Who wouldn’t naturally be drawn to a confident leader who is NOT in love with themselves and sufficiently self-aware that they are unafraid to say they don’t have all the answers?

By the same token, I also do not believe the term ‘servant leader’ belongs anywhere in the upper levels of an organization. Servant Leadership is a nontraditional philosophy of leadership embedded in a set of behaviours and practices that primarily emphasize the well-being of those being served.

Do we really want our leaders to first be concerned about our well-being and then second to help ensure we get to where we need to be? NO! We want our leaders to help ensure we get where we need to be AND be concerned about our well-being. Simultaneously.

Being vulnerable or playing a servant leader is not a linear and binary choice. And it is very, very wrong to expect, anticipate or want any one leader to be that way.

The best and the most we can expect from anyone, leader or not, is honesty.

Honesty about the desired goals and objectives, the pros and cons of the processes to get us there, and how we humans will or will not benefit.

Suppose that kind of transparency is stated upfront.

In that case, it helps everyone understand the whole picture, makes it much easier for everyone to continue or follow, and prevents wasted frivolous discussions about anyone’s vulnerability or lack thereof.

That kind of transparency fosters the magical ingredient known as trust. And as we both know, trust in another human being is becoming rarer each day, and trust in our leaders is almost extinct.

We deserve confident leaders who are also humble and tell us the truth. In my experience, THAT combination beats out everything else and wins every single time.

Rant over. Up next …. Readers choice. What’s yours?

PS. This piece might have been influenced by the incredible mini-series Shogun. In which all the Japanese leaders, including the female samurai, are neither vulnerable nor subservient.



Charlene Norman

Inspiring good humans to make a difference for all on Planet Earth. Podcast host, author, and community leader. Fanatical about change for the highest good.