"The West Wing" television show gave its viewers glimpses into the moments before and after the public moments at the White House. Those viewers connected with the show's fictional characters far more than they did with real public figures during their staged public moments.

 

Brene Brown explains why this is so.  In order to make a connection with someone else, we have to let them really see us, leaving ourselves vulnerable to harm.  Click here to see her TED talk, "The Power of Vulnerability".

Implications for onboarding

Onboarding is about connecting.  Leverage the Fuzzy Front End.  Ask for help.  Be yourself.

Leverage the Fuzzy Front End

This is why the Fuzzy Front End (between acceptance and start) is so important.  It's the West Wing's moment before the public moment.  It's the first best chance for new leaders to let their guard down, be vulnerable and make connections with their most important stakeholders.

Ask for help

Asking for help is an act of vulnerability.  It seems much less risky to come in preaching the new vision.  But it's not about you feeling good about yourself; it's about others connecting with you.  Have the courage to open yourself up.

Be yourself

Great actors inhabit their roles.  They become the character they are portraying.  Do the same.  Except, the character you're portraying is you.  As  Brown points out, this is hard work.  You have to let go of the character you think you should be and be the character you authentically are – another act of vulnerability.

In summary, be vulnerable to connect, leveraging the Fuzzy Front End, asking for help and being yourself.

This was a little counter-intuitive to me at first.  What do you think?