Vulnerability is the degree to which people or things are susceptible to harm. By that definition, it seems like vulnerability is the polar opposite of strength. Why would a leader be willing to expose their soft underbelly? Who is a vulnerable leader?
When you choose to be vulnerable as a leader, you willingly put down your natural defenses — for the greater good. However, it’s not about being whiny, making excuses, or avoiding work. Being vulnerable as a leader actually takes courage. I have found that my team responds positively when I am willing to be vulnerable.
Here’s why employees will love you when you choose to show your true self.
Being vulnerable makes you:
If you’ve ever worked for someone with a closed-door policy, you know how frustrating that can be. A boss who shows vulnerability is open to interruptions. As the CEO of Aha!, I find that the more approachable I am, the better my team works. My employees don’t have to break down the walls to get my attention. Even if I’m having a lousy day, I still make myself open and available.
When you operate in an atmosphere of vulnerability, you can actually build a stronger team. Because you willingly lay out the direction that you are headed, your team doesn’t have to puzzle over what you might be thinking. Your team members can be confident because they know the roles they have to play.
Employees will want to follow a leader who freely acknowledges their own shortcomings and willingly shares the joys and sorrows of life with their team. When a leader shows this human side, employees realize they can show their humanity without fear of rejection.
This kind of leadership is far from wimpy. Vulnerable leadership can be a dangerous undertaking, but it is well worth the risk.
When you are willing to do whatever you can to break down the barriers to potential growth, your employees will love you for it. In return, they will learn to be vulnerable with you and with each other. The result? A more productive, happy environment for everyone.
Written by: Brian de Haaf
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