Many people view vulnerability as a weakness. They believe that in order to be successful, they need to put up a facade and never let anyone see them sweat. But unless you’re being stared down by a grizzly bear, this usually isn’t true.
Embracing vulnerability is one of the most important things that you can do as a leader. When you allow yourself to be vulnerable, you show your team and others in your circle of influence that it is okay to make mistakes. You also demonstrate that you are human and that they can trust you with their vulnerabilities as well.
What does a vulnerable leader look like?
When most people think of a leader, they imagine someone who is strong, confident, and in control. Those are all indications of a great leader. President John F. Kennedy was all three of those things. He led our country with a strong sense of confidence, and always maintained an air of control in public. But they can also be indications of a terrible leader. After all, Adolph Hitler was also strong, confident, and in control.
There is another important side to leadership that is often overlooked: Vulnerability.
Being vulnerable means being open to change and willing to take risks. It means admitting when you don’t have all the answers and being okay with not always being perfect. (Yes, I know it is much easier said than done.)
In many ways, vulnerability is the opposite of what we traditionally think of as leadership. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t an essential quality for any good leader.
Being vulnerable allows leaders to connect with their team, create a space for honest dialogue, and build trust. It also allows leaders to be more flexible and adaptable, two qualities that are essential in today’s constantly changing world. If you want to be a successful leader, don’t be afraid to show your vulnerable side.
4 ways to practice vulnerability as a leader
Being vulnerable allows you to build strong relationships with your team or colleagues, and shows that you’re human. Vulnerable leaders are also more likely to be authentic and compassionate and have loyal employees.
This was especially true for Archana Patchirajan, founder of a technology startup called Hubbl. Her company was out of funds and could no longer pay her employees their full salary. Due to her strong but vulnerable leadership, her team didn’t want to work for anybody else, even if they took a massive pay cut. They then went on to sell the company for $14 million a few years later.
Being vulnerable as a leader can have huge benefits and will pay off in the long run. If you’re not used to being vulnerable, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are a few tips:
Share your own struggles and successes
When you have an open dialogue about your personal lives and own experiences, it gives others permission to do the same. But try to keep a good balance. There is such as thing as oversharing, too.
Create an environment of trust
This means being self-aware and open and honest with your team and encouraging them to do the same. You achieve an environment of trust by accepting issues and mistakes as part of human nature, forgiving and enabling yourself and others to move beyond them with a positive resolution rather than guilt-tripping or humiliating.
Ask for input from your team members on a regular basis, and be open to hearing what they have to say — even if it’s not what you want to hear. Whether or not you have a physical office, practice an “open-door policy” where you’re available and people feel free to speak up as needed.
Practice active listening
Pay attention to what others are saying, and resist the urge to interrupt or offer advice. Simply listening and reflecting back can go a long way in building trust and rapport.
The benefits of vulnerable leadership
When you embrace vulnerability, you open yourself up to many new possibilities. The vulnerability allows you to connect with your team on a deeper level, build trust, and create an environment of openness and honesty. It also makes you more flexible and adaptable as a leader. In today’s constantly changing world, these are essential qualities for any good leader.
Trust and respect
One of the most important benefits of vulnerable leadership is that it helps you to build trust and respect with your team. When you’re open and honest, people are more likely to confide in you and feel comfortable sharing their own ideas and concerns. As a result, you’ll be able to create a stronger, more collaborative team.
Another benefit of being vulnerable is that it can improve communication. When you’re open and honest with your team, you create an environment where people feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. This can lead to better decision-making and a more effective team overall.
Being vulnerable also allows you to be more flexible and adaptable. When you’re open to change and willing to take risks, you’ll be better able to respond to the ever-changing needs of your team. This can help you stay one step ahead of the competition and keep your team motivated and engaged.
Being vulnerable can feel uncomfortable, but it allows you to create deeper connections with your team, which can also benefit your mental and physical health. When you’re open and honest about your own experiences, it gives others a sense of psychological safety and comfort to also open up. As a result, you’ll be able to build stronger relationships and create a more supportive and positive team environment.
Vulnerable leaders are effective leaders
As a business owner, vulnerability allows you to connect both with your team and your ideal clients. Being vocal about your fears and flaws may seem scary. But it’ll make you relatable and can serve to inspire others to go after what they want.
Are you done hiding behind your professional brand and ready to step up as your true, authentic self? Book your VIP day with me and together, we’ll develop your personal brand so you can show up confidently.