Vulnerability is a personal characteristic that many business leaders have disdained because they usually equate it with weakness or incompetence. However, projecting an image of toughness or flawlessness can cause burnout over time, and it fails to motivate others in the long term. Nevertheless, a paradigm shift is taking place; leaders are increasingly getting encouragement to show more of their vulnerable side.
When leaders are vulnerable, they reveal a part of their personality and emotions that allows colleagues and subordinates to connect with them in more meaningful ways. Vulnerable leaders also show that they’re living in the present, are capable of compassion, and espouse integrity. Realizing that a leader has a softer side can encourage others to be more collaborative, increase their productivity, and experience more personal commitment to the organization. Here are ways leaders can serve others with vulnerability.
Cultivate the Right Organizational Culture
People won’t adopt desired traits or behaviors unless their workplaces make it safe to do so. That said, leaders should ensure that the corporate culture rewards—not punishes—vulnerability. Such leaders encourage employees to learn from mistakes, ask for help, and make ethical decisions. Vulnerable leaders enable others to be more open-minded and centered.
Lead by Example
Creating a more vulnerable corporate culture starts from the top down. Leaders need to model appropriate vulnerable behavior if they expect others to follow suit. They can begin by appropriately sharing something personal about themselves or disclosing how they feel when a department reaches an important goal.
It’s counterproductive for managers to try looking flawless in front of their employees. This effort is unrealistic, strenuous, and stressful. Instead, vulnerable leaders can show the issues they struggle with, encouraging others to identify their own areas for improvement. Managers can set an excellent example when they ask others for help or admit a mistake.
Self-awareness has become an important buzzword in the management field. Self-aware leaders see themselves for the strengths and weaknesses they possess and for the lessons they’ve yet to learn. Managers can begin increasing their self-awareness by understanding how fear can interfere with leading effectively. It also can reveal how one’s thoughts and actions impact others in the workplace.