Recognizing The Value Of Vulnerability In Leadership Roles

WRITTEN January 23, 2020 Author: Michelle LaFiura

When managers come to a leadership training, they often seek ways to show strength, improve team performance, and motivate challenging employees. 

However, one of the traits overlooked by strong leaders is the value of vulnerability. Vulnerability is the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we are all forced to face at many points in our lives. It requires us to show up in a way that could expose us to failure or criticism. For some reason, businesses have embraced the notion that vulnerability is a poor quality for leaders to have. 

In fact, the opposite is true. Risk and uncertainty are qualities that leaders face every day in business. Most managers are required to confront vulnerability through the uncertainties of fluctuating markets and uncertain sales. But incorporating vulnerability into one’s leadership style takes courage. The reward for doing it is worth it. 

When Leaders Step Outside Their Comfort Zone

If your team sees you trying an approach that is outside your comfort zone, they themselves are more willing to take the same approach. When a leader shows vulnerability, it becomes easier for us to connect on a more human level. Likewise, if you want a team member to be more honest and open in giving their opinion, expressing vulnerability yourself, is a good way to start. 

It Goes Deeper

Vulnerability is not just important in the workplace. It’s a basic human trait that enables us to connect through our humanity. According to Brené Brown, a researcher who spent ten years studying vulnerability, openness and willingness to be vulnerable are at the heart of courage, compassion, and connection.

This is important when you consider research from a 2012 Gallup poll says “only 30% of American workers were engaged, or involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their workplace.” 

What Does That Mean for Those in Leadership Roles?

That means 70% of employees in America have hung their hat at the door, agreed to do the bare minimum, and collect a paycheck. The vast majority of people working for a business are not invested enough to act to their full potential, invest their energy, or put the needs of the customers first.

The solution here seems to lie in connection. An employee who is invested emotionally in their workplace is more willing to go further and work until the job is done well, not until their hours are met.

At the heart of connection, overwhelmingly, is vulnerability. 

As a manager, you already know your best asset is your team. An invested team will always do more. As a manager, a little vulnerability can go a long way in building that team. While showing vulnerability is uncomfortable and something many of us would probably prefer to avoid, it’s vital for team building.

On that note, I’ll leave you with a final quote from poet Criss Jami. “To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”

Interested in improving your management skills? Check out our upcoming leadership training here. See our list of upcoming public classes.

[Featured Image Credit: Mohamed Hassan via PxHere]

Stay Connected

Subscribe to the IC weekly newsletter for tips and advice on your communication skills!

Public Classes

Effective communication is empowering. Get started on your path to being more clear, brief, and effective.

Upcoming Classes