The Most Overlooked Leadership Skill

Here is a list I found from Forbes titled, “Top 10 Qualities that Make a Great Leader“.  Pretty good list.  However, I truly believe there is a gapping hole in this list.  What powerful leadership skill is being overlooked?

I think it’s an extremely simple skill and maybe that is exactly why it is overlooked and often difficult to master.

The skill: Vulnerability Screen-shot-2012-08-09-at-9.21.01-AM

As most of you have already jumped to a conclusion on my addition, I’m going to ask you to pump the brakes for a definition of vulnerable.

vul·ner·a·ble: susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm. (Of a person) in need of special care, support, or protection because of age, disability, or risk of abuse or neglect.

There is some very powerful language used in this definition.  Here are a few impactful words that really stand out to me.

  • Susceptible
  • Attack
  • Harm
  • Support
  • Risk

Immediately this doesn’t feel right.  It feels to me like a “vulnerable” leader is a weak leader.  Not exactly the skill set pouring out of leadership books for the last 20 years.  However, is the world different today than it was 20 years ago?

Team members and successful organizations today want to have something to believe in.  More to the point, they want to work with someone they can TRUST.  There are many ways to earn trust, but I think one way is to open up and show your true colors.  Possibly even more important, showcase you don’t know everything and have made mistakes.

Transparency is a word I’m not terribly fond of currently because of its massive overuse in political jockeying.  But, transparency is a reality of being vulnerable.

The vulnerable leader understands better than most their strengths, and the biggest time saver of all, their weaknesses.  The vulnerable leader knows what they don’t know.  The vulnerable leader has struggles (as we all do) in life and isn’t afraid to let others in to see the real person battling these struggles.  The vulnerable leader is a servant leader.

Contrast this with the old school leaders we learned about growing up.  The leaders who pushed with an iron fist, strong will, and an indestructible armor of confidence.

The reason the vulnerable leader will continue to gain traction and transcend board rooms is simple.  There are far too many choices today to work for the selfish leader.  Business success is about having great relationships.  How many great relationships are you in today where the cornerstone of trust was laid with vulnerability?

ACTION ITEMS: It’s okay to let others in and let them see the real you.  I can promise you, it’s far more rewarding than obsessing over the maintenance of perfection.

Based on Your Newsfeed, Life Sucks

This title should make each of us pause for a moment and reflect. bitsoftruth24 Read it again.  How does it make you feel?  Does it sound like something that could come out of my mouth? (I hope not).  But, how does it make you feel?

  • Gross
  • Inadequate
  • Lame
  • Shallow
  • Boring
  • Angry
  • Paranoid

Not positive feelings!  Why then do so many of us think this way about our lives when we’re viewing social media status updates and posts? Let’s dive in a little deeper as to exactly why these feelings come about in the short list below.

  1. Friends/Followers – Be honest.  Of the people you call friends or follow socially, how many of them do you have a truly “meaningful” relationship with?  Why are so many comparisons of my life to yours made every day?  Why is it that because I can see your newsfeed, you’re instantly a measuring stick to my life?
  2. Stuff Posts – I bought stuff I really didn’t need, but you wished you had.  That makes me awesome and you wanting to be awesome with my newly purchased stuff.  Don’t take into account the question if I could even afford it, or if it was a wise financial decision?  Just know I have it and you don’t.
  3. Experience Posts – I’m in Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, in Aspen Skiing, at an expensive restaurant, and you only dream of visiting or experiencing these places.  How could life be so good?

I’m going to get in the front of the line here.   I’m guilty of thinking ALL OF THE ABOVE! I’ve said it in previous posts and I’ll say it again.  Social media is a great tool for communication (huge understatement) and has totally reinvented the definition of “conversation” in the future.  It allows us to stay in contact with people and potentially even connect with individuals through new channels.

However, social media a HORRIBLE measure of the happiness, success, struggles, and meaningful relationships in our lives.  Social media is an extremely dangerous thermometer, yet most reading this post use it to take the temperature of our lives on a daily basis. It’s human nature to compare, but this comparison can’t come to the point of leading an unfulfilling or unhappy life.  “Keeping up with the Joneses” paranoia will set in and this is a race you or I will NEVER win.  You can’t, because you’re not the one running it.  You will always be in second place playing keep up.  It’s exhausting. I know people running this race.  Do you?


  1. Set your own goals and pursue them aggressively with passion.  For you, not for anyone else.
  2. Put the phone down.  Instagram will stay in business while you’re enjoying the company of your closest friends.
  3. Don’t forget to smile.  When I take a moment to count my blessings (and there are many), the paranoia subsides instantly.
  4. Your life doesn’t suck!

The Hardest Work You’ll Ever Do

I hate to gossip.  But, this one is juicy.

I’m about to tell you the inside scoop on the toughest working relationship I have and the painstaking work I’m enduring to make the best of it.  I promise not to name names, but you can start guessing if you know me that well.


First, a little background on the relationship is appropriate. 

My challenge is pretty simple really.  However, it’s a relationship years in the making with both ups and downs.  Great successes and challenging failures have resulted from this individual.

I’m trying to make this person the best they can possibly be, but I don’t exactly know where that ceiling is.  I continue to challenge and push, but no two days are the same.  I struggle with what sometimes feels like two creatures wrapped in the same person on a different day.

Here are some of the other challenges I have with the individual:

  • Can sometimes lack focus and have too many things happening at once
  • Works too much from time to time
  • Is always looking for more
  • Has a hard time letting go and delegating
  • Will not accept mediocre
  • Can be selfish
  • Is a picky eater (ok that’s not a real gripe, but it is true)

So who is this person and how can I stand to keep him around?


Any guesses?


It’s me.  Zac Keeney.


The hardest work I’ve encountered in my career is responsibility for my own path.  It continues to be the hardest work I’ll do because I’m not satisfied with where I am today and what the future might hold.

Please don’t misunderstand this for being ungrateful.  I’m extremely thankful for all the people I get a chance to share the day with.  But success today is far from final.

I will promise my readers this.  No one else is going to take responsibility for your career or your future.  It’s on you and those you surround yourself with.  You and I hold the keys.

That is exactly why this is the hardest work you’ll ever do.  There is no one else to blame for your results.  IT’S ALL ON YOU!  If it were easy, everyone would be doing it and it would become a mundane task lacking joy.

The books to read, people to meet, challenges to take head on, and the passion to continue growing.  It is the hardest work you’ll ever do and it won’t end.  It will also be the most fulfilling because YOU OWN IT!

Yes, you will have many people help you along the way.  No one truly does it all on their own.  Thank them.  Offer to help them and repay your success with an obligation to send them down a similar path.

If you’re anything like me, my strong personality pushes back from time to time and I need a wake-up call or a swift kick in the ass to continue.  Just don’t give up!

ACTION ITEM: If you can look in the mirror and say the work you’re doing on yourself is sufficient, I challenge you to look for more.  What more can you do to challenge yourself?  It wasn’t meant to be easy and the product (you) isn’t finished yet.


Why Am I Wearing Handcuffs

I’d like to introduce you to a pair of handcuffs.

Handcuffs = Mental Restraints

Handcuffs = Mental Restraints

Many of us wear them, but you won’t see them in plain sight.  Others are burdened by the immense weight of many pairs of handcuffs, but you won’t see them either.  With all this said, where am I possibly looking to find all these handcuffs?

They exist in the simple statements listed below:

  • I’m too qualified to do this
  • I’m too short
  • I’m too out of shape
  • I’m too new to the team
  • I’m too dumb to learn a new skill
  • I’m too new to the marketplace
  • I’m too upset
  • I’m too afraid to be challenged
  • I’m too depressed
  • I’m too emotional
  • I’m too young
  • I’m too broke
  • I’m too DAMN SCARED!

You see where I’m going with this?

Each of these statements are uttered by millions of people every day and in doing such, they might as well put on a pair of handcuffs for every one of them.  I know I’ve said them.  I’m sure you have too.

After listening to hundreds of podcasts on leadership and entrepreneurship there is a very common thread the very successful follow.

They DO NOT let others dictate their path to success or allow thoughts of “I’m too…” to cloud their thinking or progress.  They go for it and are unapologetic about their quest.

ACTION ITEM: It is almost as certain as the sunrise tomorrow; an “I’m too…” thought will invade your brain and the powerful work you’re masterminding.  My process to immediately counteract this is to:

  1. Embrace the Feeling
  2. Challenge It 
  3. Take Action Against It