Emma Thompson was in hot water this week – for some words she spoke about being a stay-at-home mum.

Emma was most recently seen in “Saving Mr. Banks”, and commented to the press, “A year off was my birthday present to myself. I didn’t actually act or write. I was just a mum. I taught drama at my daughter’s school, cooked meals, and had fun. I highly recommend others to do the same, if they can afford it.”

Nothing in that quote set off press rockets, or stirred controversy in the hearts and minds of non-Hollywood mums. Sure, we can comment about how the high wage earners of the world can afford to take time off, and we could equally argue that the higher wage earners lose more income when they take time off. Neither of those are the subject of the controversy. In fact, I commend her for her comments.

I spend my time talking with audiences and on client sites discussing the benefits of accountability, and how communication with accountability is a critical step in leadership development. Well beyond appreciating her talents on the big screen, at this point, I’m applauding her ability to be vulnerable in expressing her position.

It’s her next statement that sunk her ship. “You can’t be a great mum and keep working all the time.” Say what?? Oh, Ms. Thompson…..

Suddenly the language shifted from first person to projection, and now the haters have arrived. Rather than hold her vulnerability and express “I can’t be a great mum….” she took the easy out, and expressed her own concerns about parenthood through the collective. Now she has been criticized and is the subject of bad press. The majority of us don’t live in that kind of spotlight. Yet we make these sweeping and generalized statements in the safety of the collective when we really want to convey our own frailties.

We live with the ability to influence others in our daily lives through our leadership and communication efforts. How often are you clear in your first person expression, only to shift to the collective when you feel vulnerable and exposed? What does it take for you to move forward with the vulnerability that is required of great leaders? I’m here supporting you in this evolution, let’s get there together!