This week in a group of high school students I witnessed something extremely powerful. What they did might seem simple but it completely changed the atmosphere of the room. 

I am privileged to work in a diverse range of corporate organisations and environments in the work I do helping leaders and teams to communicate more effectively. So when the opportunity to work with a group of high school student leaders presented itself I thought it would be a fun change of scenery. 

Early in the day we were exploring some of the anxiety people experience with public speaking. I posed a simple question “what are you afraid of?” then asked students to write their answer on a sticky note and place it on the window. 

I wasn’t ready for what happened next. 

Almost instantly students began writing note after note detailing their fears and sticking them to the window. The conversation that followed was authentic and invigorating. The energy in the room was palpable. 

These students didn’t care about what others were thinking. They weren’t trying to protect their reputation or build their ‘personal brand’. They weren’t worried about missing out on a promotion. Not only were they brutally honest about their challenges, they were ready to learn and discover ways to overcome them. 

And so that’s what we did together. 

What I saw was how leadership growth can be fast tracked at the intersection of these two key “ability’s”

Vulnerability and Teachability 

In this context vulnerability is the courage to speak up and let our walls down. When I say teachability I’m referring to the willingness to change by being self aware enough to acknowledge our limitations and humble enough to allow others to help. 

I have found that at the intersection of these two “ability’s” something magical takes place.


  • If we are unwilling to change and refuse to acknowledge it to others we STUNT our growth
  • If we are willing to change but refuse to speak up and ask for help we DELAY our growth
  • If we are willing to ask for help but refuse to change we sabotage ourselves and RESTRICT our growth


  • If we have the courage to speak up and let people know we need help and are willing to learn, change and receive help we ACCELERATE our growth. 

Here are three ways I watched teachability and vulnerability fast track growth 

  1. They Fast Tracked Connection – We admire strength but we connect through vulnerability. We learn that we are not alone in our struggles and connect with others who inspire us to learn and grow.
  2. They Fast Tracked Learning –  The faster we can acknowledge that there are things we do not know, the faster we can accept the help to move beyond our limitations.
  3. They Fast Tracked Collaboration –  We become deeply aware of our need of others and the power that comes through partnerships resulting in shared growth and development. 

Finding the Intersection

If Vulnerability is Low: LEAD don’t DEMAND – Vulnerability must be lead and not demanded. We cannot expect of others what we are unwilling to exhibit ourselves. Vulnerability evokes vulnerability, but leaders must be willing to bring down the walls first.

If Teachability is Low: ASK don’t TELL – If a person seems unteachable then it is more likely a lack of self awareness than a lack of instruction. A stubborn person doesn’t usually think they are stubborn. In their mind they like to think they have strong conviction or perseverance. In the same way unteachable people don’t usually think they are unteachable. They don’t just need someone to point it out, they need someone to help them see. A leader can help create deeper self-awareness by learning to ask great questions. Ask the right questions and you may just unlock insights that result in personal transformation.