Vulnerability to Earn Loyalty and Respect

Clients love to see coaches workout – why?


It’s amazing to me that clients showed up to watch the coaches do the 2011 Sectional’s WODS- If we don’t do a coaches heat at Spartan 300 you can feel the disappointment in the air – and I’ve never had more “community support” than when I was “stuck on my head” unable to do HSPUs at 2010 Sectionals and again at Regionals 2010.

Last week Lance, Jeremy and I were at Lambert’s waiting for Big Mike to arrive for a birthday celebration. Big Mike comes in still wrecked from “Fran” that he did over 2 hours earlier. Like any CrossFitter, he gave us a play by play of each round, the energy he got from the onlookers in Travis’s class, and the unpleasant out of body experience that followed! But most importantly he boasted that several clients came up to him and expressed his/her appreciation of his performance – opened up to him about his/her transformation since joining CrossFit Central – or how one client got emotional as they told him of a life altering surgery and journey back to health. All this sparked by a 3:00 min WOD? Why? How?


As coaches (and leaders) we push our clients to give more than they have ever given. We ask them to venture outside their comfort zone. We require them to give up old ways and trust us enough to adopt new ways. Seeing Big Mike – or any of the coaches – practice what we preach, push our limits, and give up our comfort zones – elicits a response of loyalty and respect.
Showing vulnerability as a coach or leader does not show weakness! Indeed it brings you more influence and respect.

Pity or Respect:

Respect is earned through competence/performance. We respect an athlete’s skill to score, a speaker’s ability to influence, or a leader’s calm during stress.
On the other hand, occasionally sharing limits and frailty also earns respect.
You might fear vulnerability leads to pity or disrespect. In reality,
Vulnerability calls for respect! At CrossFit Central where results, people, and integrity are valued, often this type of respect begins with coaches and leaders.
“Followers won’t be vulnerable when leaders aren’t.”

Respect and loyalty:

Vulnerability, additionally, invites loyalty. When people are drowning you throw them a rope. When people see coaches/leaders doing everything they are asked to do – it creates a bond. We’re in the together.
“Courageous vulnerability leads to respect and loyalty”

When does vulnerability go too far? How do coaches and leaders earn your respect?
Thanks to Leadership Freak -Dan Rockwell - for the inspiration for this post.