It is Super Bowl weekend, and across the country we are all waiting for two teams to come together in fair competition to…
Wait a minute.
I should probably state up front that I’m a New England Patriots fan.
Many of the sports teams I follow came to me through marriage. I don’t know what it’s like in the rest of the country, but when I agreed to marry a New England guy who loves his sports, there were some pretty clear requirements.
When it comes to football and baseball, there was no leeway. I had to love the Patriots and the Red Sox. Exclusively. Completely. With no hint of my past indiscretions with other teams.
It has not always been easy to be a New England sports fan
At the time, neither team was doing so well. For the Red Sox, it was almost a hundred years of not so well. Any paraphernalia of other teams was to be burned in our wood stove. I drew the line at my World Series tickets, which almost cost me my marriage in 2004 until the Red Sox came back and won the Series.
Other than that minor (or so I thought) transgression, I accepted the terms of marrying a sports nut from New England.
As leaders, we each have our own approach to leadership. An approach developed through experience, as well as a little blood, sweat and maybe a tear or two.
While we each bring our own stamp to how we lead, there are common attributes to most successful leaders:
Vulnerability (be human)
Integrity (be honest)
Transparency (show your work)
Accountability (own your outcomes)
Empowerment (grow others)
The acronym is VITAE.
Flak jackets are designed to protect the body from harm, such as from projectiles or shrapnel. They are meant to reduce vulnerability.
Working for the Marine Corps, the term “flak jacket” represented a form of protection when under fire. Often, my Marine peers would joke about needing their flak jacket in certain situations, because (verbal) fire was being directed their way.
As a civilian, flak jackets were not standard issue. I had no physical threats nearby, so a literal flak jacket was unnecessary. However, the environment was such that a mental flak jacket was critical to my success.
Realizing the power of the personal
Fast forward many years to the leader that finally figured out my flak jacket was preventing my teams from getting to know me. From seeing me as human.
A mentor of mine put it best. No matter how put together any of us may seem, we are one loose thread away from unravelling.
So why hide it?