Talking about vulnerability as a leader is something that many managers may not feel comfortable doing. After all, we look at leaders as people who take charge, who are decisive and in command, people, in other words, who are not vulnerable.
But this hesitancy about vulnerability really stems from a misconception of what it really means. Being vulnerable does not mean showing insecurity or weakness.
Vulnerability does not mean bearing your innermost secrets, but rather, dispensing with pretense and being yourself. Brene Brown, an author who has written and studied vulnerability extensively, says that it really means engaging in life and making a commitment.
Being vulnerable means a willingness to show your humanity. You are not constantly trying to show yourself to be the smartest person in the room, but you are someone who admits when they don’t know something or acknowledges when they make a mistake, someone who is able to empathize with other people.
Practice is Needed
Showing vulnerability, however, is not something that comes naturally to many people, especially those in leadership positions. It needs to be practiced. You can do this by taking the time to listen to those you work with and not being afraid to admit you don’t have all the answers or admit when you make a mistake. Being vulnerable means being able to acknowledge that your ideas may not always be the best and being willing to listen to the ideas of others.
Showing vulnerability can enhance leadership in a number of different ways.
Showing vulnerability can help other people relate to you better and enable you to form more genuine connections with them.
When workers see that their leaders are willing to acknowledge their uncertainty at times and their missteps, it gives workers permission to admit to their own failures and uncertainties. This creates an atmosphere where people are willing to take more risks because they are not afraid to fail, and this leads to greater innovation.
Showing vulnerability means accepting the help of others. For leaders, this means delegating to those who may be better equipped to handle certain tasks and allowing others to take on some of the responsibility. This allows a leader to focus on the things that are most important to his or her job.
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