The Surprising Relationship between Vulnerability and Strength

Abhishek Paul
2 min readOct 16, 2022

Interesting insights are the norm for most conversations with Suresh (Founder & CEO, Kissflow), but recently I’ve become aware of finding new ideas when we revisit the same topic. The one that I found recently (or did it find me) was the interplay between vulnerability and strength.

Granted this is a familiar and maybe a “cool” topic these days with people tripping over each other to say ho\w important it is and how vulnerable they are, but the context was quite practical in our case — a group of us were wrestling with the pros and cons of being vulnerable in our teams at Kissflow, ie going into each conflict open to the possibility that “I might be wrong” (which if you think about it is a 50% possibility).

Rather than nod along solemnly, this led to very practical questions and spirited debates with people asking, “Wouldn’t one be taken advantage of?”, “ Won’t I lose out on opportunities?”, “Why be a martyr in the cut throat world of business?”, etc. The common belief seemed to be that this was too idealistic or good to do in low stakes situations / conflicts but not in more serious ones.

Rather than reply with platitudes, Suresh pointed out the deeper question and that was to ask ourselves why do we feel so insecure in the first place? If I am genuine in my intentions and also confident in my skills, track record, place in the team / organization, etc what am I afraid of?

According to him a person with high self esteem is also more likely to be the most vulnerable as well since their value does not come from being right/perfect in the eyes of others, hence they are open to seeking out and admitting their mistakes. They don’t feel the need to win every argument, have the final say, get defensive, appear as the smartest person in the room, etc (all things I am guilty of). This also interestingly enough gives them the opportunity to become aware and deal with their shortcomings early on before it gets out of hand, i.e. they take control of their self development thereby becoming even more effective.

Maybe vulnerability is the ultimate sign of strength.