Have you ever taken the opportunity to think about how you’re viewed by your employees? And when you think about how you want your employees to describe you, what adjectives would you want them to use? Level-headed? Proactive? Driven? But what if they described you as vulnerable? Better yet, have you ever thought about incorporating vulnerability into the workplace?
For years, vulnerability in the workplace has repeatedly been seen as a weakness, an inability to handle your emotions, and a barrier to productivity. But the reality is, vulnerability does exactly the opposite.
If you’re unfamiliar with vulnerability as a leadership quality, researcher Brené Brown defines it as “taking action when there is uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” She goes on to highlight that “vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” So why should you be vulnerable with your employees and how will it change the trajectory of your company?
More effective leadership
The basis of any leadership theory is getting your employees to buy into your system of beliefs and method of doing things. Contrary to the decades’ long belief that vulnerability in the workplace is a sign of weakness, new research highlights that instead, it can be a compelling way to build trust. In doing so, it allows employees to feel more comfortable about expressing potential concerns or questions, and ultimately fosters stronger team performance. (Read more here) Reaching out to your employees for help on a project, feedback on a document, or to admit to a mistake humanizes you as a leader and builds stronger connections within your team for the future.
One thing all employees hate is noise or uncertainty that goes unaddressed by leadership. In fact, angst and anxiety have frequently been linked to lower levels of performance, less faith in one’s employer, and higher levels of burnout. Being transparent about challenges, difficulties, and changes throughout your company can ease tensions and build faith in you as a leader. It shows your employees that you operate together as one entity rather than a group of colleagues pinning for individual success. (Read more about communication trends here)
Building better leaders
As the future of work becomes the present, it has never been more important to foster candid communication and safe workplace environments where employees feel free to be themselves. By implementing aspects of vulnerability in the workplace and throughout your leadership approach, you are showing your employees that you are actively breaking the cycle of stone-faced, stoic executives. In return, when it is your time to pass the baton, the leader who replaces you will be well-versed in honest communication, building relationships with employees, and cultivating a more equitable and innovative workplace environment.
Now, this isn’t to say that after reading this blog you should turn to your employees to air out your dirty laundry or voice every insecurity you’ve ever had. In fact, how to be vulnerable is less of a skill and more of an approach or personal choice. Yes, it can be hard and requires an abundance of self-awareness, but the benefit is you and your employees will be more cohesive, more trusting, and more engaged with one another.
Interested in communicating change or developing your company culture? Tribe can help.