How To Be A Vulnerable Leader With Lisa Marie Platske

One of the qualities of being a leader is vulnerability. People have this perception that if you’re being vulnerable, you’re being weak. That perception of vulnerability has to be changed because leaders need to be seen as forgiving and courageous. Join your host Dr. Diane Hamilton and her guest Lisa Marie Platske as they discuss the different qualities a leader needs to have. Lisa Marie is a coach, speaker, and bestselling author. She is also the CEO of Upside Thinking. Learn how your personality plays a role in how you lead. Discover what is keeping you from being vulnerable so that you can unlock your true leadership potential.

TTL 891 | Vulnerable Leader


I have Lisa Marie Platske here. She’s an award-winning leadership expert in human behavior who’s received accolades from the White House, United States Small Business Administration, International Alliance for Women, and so much more. She’s written many books and co-authored others. She’s the best seller in five countries.

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How To Be A Vulnerable Leader With Lisa Marie Platske

I am with Lisa Marie Platske, who is an expert in human behavior. She’s received accolades from the White House, United States Small Business Administration, and the International Alliance for Women. She’s been recognized as one of the top 100 women making a difference in the world. It’s nice to have you, Lisa.

Thank you so much, Diane. It’s truly a pleasure.

I was looking at your background. I thought this was interesting to me because you used to be in federal law enforcement. After 9/11, you became a CEO of an international leadership development company. You’ve got a pretty interesting background. I want to know about how you created Upside Thinking Incorporated and some of the other things that you’ve done since then. Give me your backstory.

I don’t know if you remember Charlie’s Angels, the 1976 version, they had the gowns and luxurious assignments. When I went into federal law enforcement, I thought that it was going to be like Charlie’s Angels. It wasn’t. I was assigned to the New York metropolitan area. It was not as glamorous and luxurious. There were no beaches to be found. I loved what I did, though.

Law enforcement is so much about human behavior and how someone conducts themselves. I loved what I did. I left law enforcement not because I didn’t love the work or find it interesting, even though it didn’t have all the glamour to it. I loved the mission and the feeling of making a difference. I was there during 9/11. It’s a painful time in the New York metropolitan area. The greatest part about law enforcement on my leadership journey is that the guys didn’t want to work with me.

Why? Is it because you’re a female?

It was more because I had long blonde hair and red, white, and blue nails. I was thinking this is an episode of something different. I signed up for leadership training to figure out how to work well on the job, how to succeed, how to be able to not fit in because I understood that I was different, rather thrive, and to be valued for who I was.

This was foreign to not be rewarded for having been an A-student and done well in banking. It’s not translating. We did a series of assessments. I understand you and I share that passion in assessments and how that can help transform lives. That’s exactly what it did for me, although it was a little bit painful in the beginning. I scored a zero in an interpersonal skills assessment.

That sounds like something I would get. I got a zero and F side of the thinking versus feeling on MBTI. You don’t see zeros often.

In this case, it wasn’t a safe place for me to receive that zero. The instructor announced it to the rest of the class. In addition to announcing it, she also went on and said, “If Lisa invites you to do something, she doesn’t want to be there. If you invite her to do something, she’s wishing she was someplace else.”

How also it’s nice to use it as a negative example.

It was a painful and awful experience. Yet, that experience turned out to be one of the best because I came face to face with myself and where I could improve. I had a conversation that went something like, “Lisa, you could be smart and tough, strong and right, but you could also be alone and dead. Clearly, something is going on here. If you don’t learn how to connect with the guys you work with, that might well be your reality.”

Was it because you lacked empathy? What was the thing that was holding you back?

I did a lot of research on that, even in behavioral assessments. It’s what took me down that the journey of examining human behavior, starting with myself. In diving into my personality, I’m a direct communicator. Being a direct communicator and also being somebody who is social, not necessarily extroverted, can be perceived as, you don’t want to be part of because you’re separate from. It’s how I process. I’m direct in the communication and then I need to take things back and process and think. To some degree, it came across cold.

You don’t come across that way now at all.

This has been a lifetime ago.

Do you see a difference looking back? Do you see what other people saw that you didn’t see?

Yes. You dive into perception. My perception was, “I’m a great communicator.” My perception is, “This is the way to behave because I’m not making things personal.” Also, growing up, I had learned that knowledge was power, so you didn’t disclose it.

You hold on to it. You don’t share it with anyone else. That’s how you get the silo effect.

That didn’t make me any more likable, more approachable either.

I was raised in a way that whoever has the most toys wins. You become super competitive. It’s a different time back then. You didn’t get participation ribbons. It was cutthroat. You had to win or lose. There wasn’t any participation award. It was a different time. A lot of us have had to change a little bit. What led to your change?

Don't just try to fit in; look to thrive and be valued for who you are. Click To Tweet

Receiving those led me down the realization that I needed to do something. I began researching connection, positioning, and brain science. Based on what question is, what is it that would have somebody come up with this perception? What am I doing to contribute to that and recognize that connection involves being interested in others?

Connection involves doing things that are active. The other part was I got curious. A lot of curiosity about what was most important to the guys that I worked with? What was most important to other people instead of filling in the blanks? I learned three new words. I expanded my vocabulary to, “I don’t know.” There’s that too.

It’s funny because when I was in sales, one of the best things they taught us was to never fake it if you didn’t know. It’s better to say, “I don’t know but I’ll find the answer out. I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.” The worst thing was you would lose your credibility if you recommended you knew something. Do you think that’s true?

Absolutely. Even if you give an answer and it sounds good, I believe that deep down, people can feel that something is off even if they can’t express why.

You get that sense that there’s something that doesn’t smell right with this. When you’re trying to come up with something that you don’t know, it’s genuine nature, you can tell. You appreciate it when people say they don’t know. You can’t know everything. The fact that you get back somebody right away was more important.

I would rather have the right information fast than the wrong information faster. A lot of people come to the realization from some of these assessments. Some of them get 360 results and their eyes bug out and they’re like, “What is this?” What assessments did you get interested in right away? Were there specific ones that were more helpful to you than others?

In that particular course that I’m referring to, they did a series of assessments. There were about nine of them. One of them was a 360. There were several that had my head spin or my eyes pop out. It wasn’t that one there, there were many. The ones that I personally fell in love with afterward, I love Myers Briggs and what it teaches.

What’s your type?

You could guess.

You made it sound like you needed to process, so I have got to say I.

No, I am a centrovert. With that, I’m like a plus one.

The only reason I guessed I was because you said that. You come across like how I do in the middle. I come out on the E side.

I do. I’m an E plus one.

I’m a little farther to the E side. I’m not as far as people might think. I’m all S. I’m all T. I’m all J. Are you an N?

I’m an N.

TTL 891 | Vulnerable Leader
Vulnerable Leader: You could be smart, strong, and right but if you don’t learn how to connect with the people you work with. You will end up alone and dead.


You do have some F.

When I first went into law enforcement and took it, I was heavy on F. I am heavy on T.

To people who aren’t familiar, the F, you make your decisions mostly based on your values. Thinkers tend to do it more in facts and figures and statistics. You used to base it more on your values.

I would say that shifted. Having taken it several times, that was one of the noticings. When I tell people that I’m this FT, I draw the T and then I put the little F sign there. I’m flexing both styles. There’s no flexing in the J and the T. It is J.

I’m all J, too. Js are structured people who like to have everything planned out. They’re not spontaneous. I’m that. A lot of people laugh at Myers Briggs and say, “It’s not that useful,” but it can be. Not so much for me to tell me about me but for people who are the opposite type of personality. What it does is tells you how people prefer to get energized and receive information. Whether you think the research is valid or whatever you think of it, it brings up some important discussions that need to happen so that you can have empathy to understand the opposite of what you are. Don’t you think?

I agree. The assessment that I probably use more than anything else is DISC. I’d use that for its simplicity. Some people say, “It’s because it’s complicated.” To explain it, I like DISC because of its simplicity and to be able to speak to someone else’s listening. If I hear that someone is using a particular style, I can speak to that style and flex my leadership, use situational leadership so that they can hear me better, not because I’m changing my beliefs.

It’s giving them information in the ways most comfortable for them. What is your DISC style?

We couldn’t be any higher with D. My I is smidgen lower. My S is nonexistent. It’s as low as it could be. The C is probably in maybe the 30th percentile, on the bottom.

In the last position I was in, they did the DISC day where everybody stands in your corner. They had your highest value and D was mine. My I was next, so we’re similar in that. Mine wasn’t as high as what you’re saying but that was my number one thing. It was interesting to me because all of the successful people that had been in leadership positions were all in the D. They were all over there.

My boss, the one guy, was across the room over in the C by himself. I felt sorry for him, even though there’s nothing wrong with being the C. It looked like he shouldn’t be a leader from the way it was described in that training and that’s not the case. You need to have different types. Some are more naturally direct types of people who do well in leadership. Teams all could do well to have different personalities and different behaviors and things within them. If you had everybody as a D, you would all be telling each other what to do and no one would do anything.

Those are the people who are the integrators. The Cs are the ones that take whatever the visionary idea is that the D has and has it come to life. In the 1980s, Disney suffered. They went through a huge slump in their movie sales and their parks. It was a real hard time. When they looked at the boardroom, what they found was that everyone had this high D style. How they saw the world and how they saw business was myopic. They had this one lens and it was creating issues within the business product line.

People can be great leaders, but how it shows up in an organization can be very different. Click To Tweet

I look at that and go, “There’s danger in any organization, whether you’re a small business or you work for a large corporation with many layers if you are not able to bring other people in and recognize the need for different behavioral styles.” Yet, for the organizations that do it, it’s important that leadership understands how to interact. With your boss being on the other side and going like, “How does that work? How does that fit in?” I’m sure that he has a different personality style. He was either flexing his leadership or they had to flex theirs because otherwise, that person couldn’t thrive in the organization.

It’s all helpful to learn some of these styles. I worked for a company where they made us put our results in our cubicle. They did the color. It’s the management by strengths, where you’re either red, blue, green, or yellow.

True Colors. I’m certified in that. It’s a great profile.

It was called management by strengths when I took it. I don’t know if it’s the same thing anymore, but it could be. Maybe you’ll know by the color. The red was pretty much the direct type. They would cut you off if you didn’t get to the point and they might hurt your feelings if they did that personality. The green was the extrovert, super talkative but they might get their feelings hurt if you cut them off. The yellow was the reading-the-manual type of person who wants to go by the book 100%. The blue was the slow, methodical, nice person but if you rush them, their heads might explode, and they might lose it eventually.

We would get these ideas in our minds. If you went to somebody’s cubicle and they’re yellow, then maybe they’re not going to do so well in sales because they’re going to need to read the manuals and going to be too technical. You’d start thinking, “Only the reds and the greens would do well in sales.” You then start to type people into boxes. There’s a problem with that. Some of it’s helpful. If you’re talking to somebody, you go, “This person is analytical. I’m going to give them data.” It’s a good thing for that. If we say, “Everybody is a D or everybody’s a blue or everybody’s a number,” we can get it to cause problems. What do you think?

You’re wise with that because that’s the danger in relying too heavily on one particular assessment. Why many? Why life-purpose path? Why time assessments and various styles? It’s because they each inform something a little different. What you’re looking at is the whole person. You and I might have the same percentages even in DISC assessment and we’re still going to be different people based on our backgrounds, our families, our life experiences. There’s such danger when we pigeonhole people and say, “Only this style does this and that.”

Some of the research from Kouzes and Posner, when they talk about the best leadership qualities, the four qualities of leaders, the first quality is integrity. The second quality is forward-thinking. The third quality is inspiring. Someone who’s a D inspires differently than someone who’s an I, S, or C based on what’s important to them. The same thing with levels of confidence. They still can be leaders and even be what research shows are great leaders and yet how it shows up in an organization can be different.

It’s fascinating to look at what research has been done in the areas you’re talking about, preferences, and things. Many years ago, I wrote a book with my daughter called It’s Not You It’s Your Personality. I looked at all the different personality assessments. It’s funny to do a reverent book with her because she was going through some of the training and stuff at that time.

I’ve had Tom Rath, the StrengthsFinder guy on my show, Dan Goleman of emotional intelligence, Paul Ekman had done all of his work with all the expressions, Albert Bandura, the genius in psychology. I’ve had all these people and we’ve looked at a lot of this stuff. It’s hard to quantify behaviors and quantify some of these things. That was what led to me trying to do that with my work with curiosity.

Curiosity ties into all these things that we’re talking about. We want people to be successful in all these different realms. The reason I created my assessment was to find out what keeps people from being curious because if you know what’s stopping you, then you can move forward. If you found out what was stopping you from these assessments, you then move forward from there. Is that what I’m hearing?

Yes. It was first looking at me and going, “What is it?” What I was aware of at that point was, if I was getting this, I had two choices and that was to discard it and say, “They don’t know what they’re talking about.”

A lot of people would do that, too.

TTL 891 | Vulnerable Leader
Vulnerable Leader: People succeed in life, not because of the number of resources or money they have access to. It’s their amount of determination, grit, and resolve.


Also, it was painful. Doing that would have been a more comfortable path. Yet, if I wanted to be a leader that was worth following and in this journey of being better, which is why I signed up for the program in the first place, then it meant that I had to look in the mirror. Also, I had to do some of my own work. I looked at what it was that I was doing that was getting in the way of being seen, being rewarded, and being recognized.

Is that what led to you writing so many books? You’ve got some great books out there that have wonderful reviews. I was looking at some of the stuff you’ve written. A few that I was looking at were 7 Keys to Mastering Connection, Connection: The New Currency, and Turn Possibilities into Realities.

I did a rerelease of the Connection: The New Currency with some new research.

I love the cover of that, by the way. That’s a great cover.

Thank you.

Those things are interesting to write about because everybody’s looking for an answer to what makes people successful. What are the keys to reaching goals and turning possibilities into realities? What was your main thought when you wrote your books? Is there a particular audience that you’re trying to appeal to or is this pretty much the business world?

My idea was not like, “Let’s go write books because I have this burning desire to write books.” It was that every time I would be in a conversation with something that would almost have me go, “I would never in a million years thought that would have been something that would be in consciousness. Would this be something that might help people?”

My first book, I had no plan on writing it but I was at an event. I asked a woman, who was a senior attorney and in a Fortune company, a question and it was around, “What do you want?” She said to me, “Nobody’s ever asked me that question.” Here she was in her mid-40s and I’m going, “You never thought about that? Has it never been something?” This is years ago and maybe there’s more body of work out on that. It amazed me. I started to ask people, “Who are you? What do you want? Why does it matter?” I was shocked at how few people could answer those three questions with ease. That’s why I did that.

With Turn Possibilities Into Realities, I would meet people and they would be in these two camps. One would be, “This would be so hard to do,” and the others would have stories of countless hardships and yet, they made magic happen. I was like, “How do people do that?” More people need to understand that it’s not the number of resources, money, or access that differentiates. There’s a certain amount of determination, grit, and resolve.

Where does curiosity fit in that?

That’s exactly it. Curiosity, instead of looking at it and saying, “I can’t. This is something that can’t be done.” It’s like, “How can it be done?” When I come up with something, it used to be like, “What is the possible solution?” Now, even when I come up with two or somebody else comes up with something, it’s like, “What’s the third option we’re not looking at?” That’s curiosity. That’s going, “I wonder.”

That brings back Disney because Disney was losing a lot of money because they were having high turnover in the laundry division. I know it sounds glamorous to work at Disney but nobody wants to work in a laundry anywhere. They were losing people. They thought, “Let’s ask them what we could do to make their job better.” Ask a question. Assuming that they’re not going to tell you, “Buy me a Porsche,” maybe you’ll get some answers like that but you’re going to get some answers.

They got some good answers like, “Put air vents over my desk, so I’m not hot. Put my table, so it goes up and down, so my back doesn’t hurt,” or whatever they got that made them say, “We can do that.” They incorporated these changes and they saved a ton of money on turnover. It’s asking all these, “What do you want?” What-if questions that a lot of people are held back. At least in my research on curiosity, They’re held back by fear.

Vulnerability is not a marketing tactic. It's actually a way that allows a leader to live out their vision. Click To Tweet

The four things that hold people back are fear, assumptions, which is the voice in your head, over and underutilization of technology and environment, which is everybody you’ve ever known in your life around you who have told you things and a lot of this overlaps. We get our fear sometimes from that voice in our head telling us things and then we get that voice in our head from our experiences with people. When you’re writing about all this stuff, I see a big connection to not only perception but to curiosity. This is all huge behavioral science stuff. What part of behavioral science haven’t you touched on yet that you’d like to go deeper into?

The area that I’m diving into more and more is around forgiveness and vulnerability. The reason why is because I speak a lot about courageous leadership. What’s the difference between somebody who has the courage to lead? Even in today’s world with so many changes, why would you want to lead when there are many people, especially in social media, who come out and attack people? What would it be to have that courage to go, “I want to be a leader?”

The people that I’m humbled to have the opportunity to coach are people who are seeking to make a bigger difference on the planet, who want to make an impact, and the amount of courage that takes. I started to look at, “What is it?” It’s much like you found in curiosity and perception, I found that there’s this idea of vision, vulnerability, and voice that allows people to truly be courageous. Yet, clarity, those sound like, “That’s great but how do you unlock those? How do you unlock vision? How do you unlock voice? More importantly, how do you unlock vulnerability?”

What I have discovered is that vulnerability gets unlocked through forgiveness. Forgiveness is a high-level leadership skill. Vulnerability is not a marketing tactic. It’s a way of being that allows a leader to live out their vision. I want to do more research into that as a leadership skillset and in someone’s operating system like, “How do they go about?” I know I’ve done my own forgiveness work that has led to me being able to freely and openly disclose and be unattached. I’m not sure if it’s mine or is this what everybody does. I’m curious as to the humans. Is it different culturally? Is it different in other ways?

When you talk about it being a process, that’s what I found with perception. It was a process. We evaluate, predict, interpret, and correlate to come up with our conclusions. A lot of that is a combination of IQ, EQ for emotional quotient, CQ for curiosity quotient, and CQ for cultural quotient all combined. I love looking at these processes that you’re talking about.

You wanted to have this vulnerability in voice. We’re seeing a lot of people, especially in the social media troll world, who are anonymous. They express all these things because they can’t be vulnerable in person. They’re hiding behind things. I would love to see somebody fix that. Are you trying to get into hidden vulnerabilities? What area are you going in more specifically?

There are people who put things out there because they’re of fear. What I had been fascinated with is that vulnerability has been almost used as this tool that has this buzzword that says, “If you do it, then it means that you’re letting people in. You’re letting them learn more about you.” It’s taken on a side almost, where people do it poorly because they use it as ways to go, “If I tell you all the things that have happened to me that is my sad story, perhaps I can market and sell things to you. Perhaps it means that if I tell you how I’m feeling or how if I’m vulnerable about how wrong we did something and I communicate using vulnerability, that will make me a good leader at work.” There are components where it’s misunderstood.

Amy Edmondson has researched quite a bit on psychological safety. She was on the show. She’s a great Harvard professor and part of Thinkers 50, which is a group that I’ve done some stuff with. You’re working on these similar things. You want to feel a sense of psychological safety by removing vulnerability.

Removing the perception of what it is, the perception that every time I say something that might be personal and I spill out my guts, that means I’m being vulnerable. It doesn’t. You’re right, it’s tied to psychological safety. When you see it done poorly, it’s like, “Why? What is it?” There are elements and that’s what I’ve been going, “What are the specifics?”

You’re looking for the factors like I was. When I was a kid, I could think of my mom or somebody say, “Don’t ever tell people stuff because they’ll use it against you.” You get these things that are environmental. You could probably find a lot of the factors the way I did with curiosity. I started on LinkedIn. I asked the question, “What keeps you from being curious?”

People started out giving me all these ideas. A lot of them are fear-based. I’m sure a lot of these are fear-based as well. What you can do by finding these factors is you’re finding out what stops you so you can move forward. Have you done any research? Are you thinking of doing research to come up with these factors so that they know what stops them to move forward?

Yes, I’ve had conversations and that’s been the question, “What keeps you from being vulnerable? What stops you from being vulnerable at work?” What has come up has been this element of, “It’s not safe to do. I’m afraid I’m going to be labeled. I’m afraid that I’m going to be kept from the next opportunity.”

It ties with the curiosity thing. I thought it was going to be all fear. That’s why I thought it was fascinating to build the questions that I did when I studied it, to test them out, to see the kinds of things. They were more than fear factors, they were the fourth. I had to go back and teach myself factor analysis again, which was so much fun, not for me. I was never a fan of statistics. I did love it for this because it gave me some interesting data.

When you start writing some of these questions to ask people and then you do the factor analysis, you start to see they bunched together in certain clumps of areas. You start looking at these questions and you go, “All those things are fear-based. All those things are what we tell ourselves. All these things are technology-based.” You start to see the different factors evolve.

TTL 891 | Vulnerable Leader
Vulnerable Leader: In perception, there’s this idea of vision, vulnerability, and voice that allows people to truly be courageous.


You don’t recognize it until you start putting out a bunch of questions. It’s fun. I could be on SurveyMonkey all day long asking people questions because I get fascinated by the answers you get. For vulnerability, I imagined fear would be higher than some other things. I wrote my dissertation on emotional intelligence and then writing about curiosity. The people who need to learn about curiosity and emotional intelligence aren’t the ones who are going to go find the book that tells them they need to help with those, don’t you think?

Yes. They’re not going out and looking. The people that I’m working with, they’re not waking up at night either though, and going, “How do I get to be a better leader?” That’s not it. The thing that’s keeping them up at night is, “I feel like I’m running out of time. I know that I’m here on the planet to make a bigger difference. What is that? What is most important for me to do?”

When I look at leadership from that lens and what it takes to be the courageous leader that goes out and has an impact, that component of vulnerability is important. The part that had come up from the research, that’s where I got the forgiveness from. I went, “One of the themes is that the people who are able to be vulnerable and get it where it doesn’t come out weird and wonky. It doesn’t come out in a way where it’s like, ‘I’m trying to be vulnerable as a tactic. I’ve read a book on vulnerability. All of a sudden, I am.’”

Those are people where they’ve done their walk in forgiving pieces in their own life and other people to where they’re unattached. They’re emotionally well. When you spoke about looking at all of the areas of IQ, EQ, and Cultural Q, there’s also this element within forgiveness that unlocks the ability to be vulnerable in a way that allows others to want to follow you.

Are you talking about self-forgiveness or forgiveness of others?

I’m starting first with self-forgiveness because you can’t get to forgiving others unless you’ve forgiven yourself for whatever it is that you’ve held on to. Going back to your four of fear, assumptions, technology, and environment, those all come up. Fear happens to be higher in terms of the vulnerability piece.

I would think that would play a huge role.

I’d say more shame and embarrassment. “If people only knew this about me,” that I heard many times and was always like, “That’s interesting.” For some of the people who said it, they’re not people that you would go, “Never would I ever have anything like that in my head about them.”

We’re all human. We’re all going to have our uncomfortable areas. It would be fun to look at that. Whenever people tell me their different ideas, I’m thinking, “What word could you use instead of self-forgiveness?” Amy Edmondson had psychological safety, which gives you a real positive spin on it. Daniel Pink picks drive instead of motivation. I had the hardest time with curiosity. I kept curiosity. Later, after I realized what I was looking at, it was getting out of status-quo thinking and eliminating status quo behaviors. As you do your research, it’d be interesting to see if you add any other terms to it as I did.

I have the word that comes up over and over again and I’m not sure how it lines up with it. This is a meaning piece for people. I’m not sure how that will land or if that will be part of the process in the research.

Your purpose, is that as meaning?

Vulnerability is only unlocked by forgiveness. Click To Tweet

Meaning as in meaningful, as in taking a stand for. That’s been something that’s come up over and over again.

The grit of meaning. You got to figure the word grit. It’s fun to look at all of it. You get into the thesaurus. You can spend all day there with all this stuff when you start researching these different behaviors and what word clicks with people. A lot of people want to hear one word, you had connection. Connection is a great term. I like this, The New Currency, because it paints the picture. You’re good at doing that. That’s harder for me. I always appreciate it when people come up with good titles.

Curiosity Code is pretty darn good.

Thank you. A lot of people ask me what I mean by it, and it isn’t clear sometimes, because even when I did research from the beginning, I put in a Google lookup to alert me whenever anything came up on curiosity. I started getting all the Mars Rover stuff. I had to take out Mars Rover. You wouldn’t get as much about what I was trying to get to as I wanted to. Maybe you need to develop a new word when you create this stuff.

It’s something that people who need all of this stuff often won’t look for, so you have to get to the leaders who get it, who are good at this stuff and want to see this in their followers and their companies. They want to create a culture where people aren’t worried about being vulnerable. They have that psychological safety. They want to build that in their company. For me, what I found is finding the great leaders who see that they want to reform some of these problems in their followers and working that way. Do you think that’s a good way to go?

I look at those people that are the innovators. Those are the futurists and the innovators. Those are my people because they’re working it backward and go, “If I want this, how do I get that?” They understand that if you want somebody who’s invested and going to give you the best ideas and allow you to allow their best ideas to transform an organization, then they have to feel safe enough to share whatever is on their mind without their fear of it being made fun of or being, in any way, made small for those ideas.

Do you think that it helps to be self-deprecating at all to show a vulnerability like, “I get this problem?” If you’re speaking to a group, is that helpful or hurtful?

It’s hurtful. I don’t know that it’s necessary. There were times when I say, “I get that because that resonates with me.” That comes from a place of authenticity but it’s not something where I’m going out of my way to look for that because you’re doing some comedy act or some performed vulnerability. That’s not helpful for anyone.

When I give talks, often, I’ll share one horrible thing I did, especially with salespeople because they laugh. They think it’s funny because they’ve all been there. There are some of that can go a long way. I’ll give a story of how I gave a whole presentation to a guy, then five seconds later, I was in the elevator with him. I didn’t even recognize him and asked him if he worked in the building. People laugh because they’ve been there and they’ve done stupid things. If your whole shtick is, “Look at me and how stupid the things I do,” nobody’s going to take you seriously.

That is exactly it. It’s one thing when it’s authentic and true when it comes up and it’s part of it. Even me sharing the zero, that’s an element of vulnerability or putting myself out there. Would I love everybody to remember that about me? No, and yet, it’s an important piece of who I am today. I can always say to people, “I’m sure whatever score you got, it probably wasn’t zero.” If I can do something about this, then clearly, anybody can. There’s value in that.

It gives people a sense of hope, “If you can do this, I could do this.” That’s important. A lot of people get on the show and tell me how many companies they’ve crashed before they made the great one. We all have heard about how many times Thomas Edison didn’t create the light bulb before he did and all those stories. I see it better in younger generations in the sense that they don’t feel as held back by needing to look perfect as in the business setting, maybe more so they do on Facebook. They don’t seem to have that sense that the Boomers did that you can’t fail. Do you see that?

They will share more online. However, I’m not sure in an organization that I’ve necessarily seen them be willing to not believe their ideas. I don’t know that I can generationally categorize that because I have seen where it’s like, “This way would do it faster.” It depends. Sometimes, fast is not necessarily the best outcome. Sometimes, some things need to be done more methodically. Sometimes speed is more important. It depends on what we’re talking about.

I’m hearing Phil Dunphy in my head. I don’t know if you watch Modern Family. He would go slow and smooth, and smooth and fast. I love his character on Modern Family. I agree, sometimes you hurt yourself by going too fast in doing something. All the things that you study and things that I studied are complementary to each other because we’re trying to reach our full potential at work. A lot of people need help with this stuff. What are you working on next? I know you’re coming here to where I live, which is exciting. You go around and you speak, write, and consult. Is there something that you’re working on that you want people to know about? Is there a website or something you’d like to share?

Thank you. My annual conference where I will get to come out your way is my Upside Summit, Design Your Destiny Live. That’s always in January. I’m excited about that because it’s three days of transformational leadership where I dive into my seven pillars of leadership and all the research that I’ve done on what the world’s best leaders do differently. The website is

TTL 891 | Vulnerable Leader
Vulnerable Leader: If you look at leadership from the lens of a courageous leader that goes out and has an impact. That component of vulnerability becomes much more important.


I’m in the Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, Phoenix metropolitan area, so anybody who’s thinking about that knows where you’re having it. It got a beautiful view of Camelback Mountain, so people need to go. That’s destination one, for sure.

In January, it’s a good place to go where there’s no snow.

You should do this little hike up the mountain as part of the event, but that’s a tough hike. I’ve done that several times.

I have not done that. The center has a labyrinth on property that, in sunrise and sunset, is something that is a must.

If you go next door, some hotels nearby have some of the best sticky buns. If you do hike up the mountain, make sure you end up at El Chorro for sticky buns because they’re the best, by far. It was nice getting to know you, Lisa Marie. What you’re working on is helpful for everybody. Thank you so much for being on the show.

Thank you so much. I deeply appreciate the invite, the conversation, and all the work you’re doing in the world, Diane.

Thank you. This was so much fun.

I’d like to thank Lisa Marie for being my guest. We get so many great guests on the show. If you’ve missed any past episodes, you can catch them at I hope you enjoyed this episode. I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.

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About Lisa Marie Platske

TTL 891 | Vulnerable LeaderAn award-winning leadership expert in human behavior, Lisa Marie Platske has received accolades from the White House, the United States Small Business Administration, and The International Alliance for Women, recognized as one of the top 100 women making a difference in the world.

She left her Federal law enforcement career after 9/11 to be the CEO of an international leadership development company, Upside Thinking, Inc. Lisa Marie delivers presentations worldwide sharing research on how vulnerability and forgiveness are critical to exceptional leadership as well as her proven 7-step leadership model centered on connection, positioning, and executive presence. An international best-selling author in 5 countries, Lisa Marie has written or co-authored 7 books.

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