I have had the great pleasure of hearing Mo Fathelbab speak twice, most recently at the Gazelles ScaleUp Summit at the end of 2018. Following that event, I reached out to Mo for a one-on-one conversation on his focus on the value of relationships. Mo, who is the author of Forum: The Secret Advantage of Successful Leaders and The Friendship Advantage, presses on two key factors as relationship deal-makers or -breakers: vulnerability and honesty.
When Mo asks groups of leaders and CEOs about vulnerability, some suggest that vulnerability equals weakness. But others step forward and declare they see strength in vulnerability – having the courage to show our humanity, or putting something difficult out there so it can be acknowledged or addressed. Mo believes vulnerability is foundational for building good relationships. He quotes David Bradford (Stanford University Graduate School of Business) as saying it best: “Vulnerability is the currency of relationships. Without vulnerability relationships remain superficial.”
So often, today’s culture seems to describe the most effective truths as brutal and facts as harsh. Or, there is the opposite approach – those who avoid sharing the truth because they are uneasy with the notion of creating discomfort. Mo uses the words “kind truth” to describe the type of honesty that is necessary, genuine and respectful. This is the honesty that cultivates the best relationships. Kind truth strikes the balance between the extremes of brutality and avoidance.
Mo reiterates how critical relationships are to our success, both in our personal lives and in the corporate world. He has created a friendship test, where you can gauge the quality of your relationship with a specific individual, a small group, or among your whole team. His test reviews factors such as shared purpose and values, and generosity, as well as the all-important vulnerability and kind truth. (Click here for Mo’s online friendship test.)
I am grateful for Mo’s leadership, his focus on the less-tangible qualities that lead to success, and his reminder that when we welcome vulnerability and practice kind truth, our relationships grow, and our culture thrives.