The Power of Vulnerable Leadership
“I’m on a mission to shift our culture,” says Newton Cheng, Director of Health + Performance at Google and the first guest on the Expansive Intimacy podcast. Newton’s experience with intimacy began in his late teens when he would observe the friction that arose from each new experience to determine if he was doing what was best for himself.
In leadership, he finds that vulnerability, which often includes becoming emotional in front of others, has a positive effect on his ability to lead, and even refers to intimacy as a superpower. He and Jim discuss how men and women respond differently to this outpouring of emotions, and what it says about the way men are conditioned by society. They describe the benefits of applying tenets from non-traditional sources, such as marriage counseling and Al-Anon 12-Step Recovery, to the business world.
In the workplace, Newton explains, vulnerability means being uncomfortable. A major example is being transparent with your superiors when you don’t know what you’re doing. Paradoxically, this often leads to a feeling of confidence and empowerment. Ultimately, taking care of one’s employees, which includes their mental health, ensures they will, in turn, be more beneficial to a company.
Newton’s own journey to vulnerability includes a bout of professional burnout and a period of mental health leave. During that time, he visited one of his oldest friends, and learned about removing the mask of professional accomplishments and accolades to relate to people around you in a more authentic way. Ultimately, intimacy means clarifying who you truly are, connecting to your deep inner world and inviting others to do the same.
“A question I really like to reflect on is, ‘If I put aside my labels, my accomplishments, my roles that I play in life, who am I and what do I stand for?’ It's an infinitely deep question. And I'm going to wrestle with it for the rest of my life. But it starts to unearth what's in there.” (3:15-3:35 | Newton)
“One thing that I'm still trying to figure out is, I have this–we'll call it a superpower. It's really a double edged sword, where I can say what seems like hard things on their face, but I'm not feeling my feelings, to use a parlance from the field of conscious leadership. So I disconnect from my feelings. It enables me to put the hard things on the table. But it's not the real experience.” (10:00-10:33 | Newton)
“We can all be leaders because we can all influence someone.” (23:36-23:41 | Newton)
Connect with Newton Cheng:
Connect with Jim Young: LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/thecenteredcoach
The views expressed are that of the individual and do not represent the opinions of any companies past, present or future.