In this article I explain why it’s more effective (and fulfilling) to be a vulnerable leader, based on research as well as my own experience.
Historically, leaders have often been portrayed as these tough, invulnerable beings – commanders who never waver, never doubt, never fear.
Sounds impressive, right?
But also… dare I say, robotic.
And we humans are not robots. No offense to robots. Robots are great at what they do, like assembling cars or amusing us with their dance routines on YouTube.
But they lack the rich tapestry of human emotions.
And emotions give us depth, understanding, authenticity – and each of these qualities enable us to operate as our highest potential selves.
And so it’s to our benefits to embrace these emotions – and show up – even in the office – as our vulnerable truest selves.
Thankfully nowadays many successful leaders are recognizing the value in embracing vulnerability. These successful leaders are no longer afraid to say, “I don’t know,” or “Let’s figure this out together.” They understand that acknowledging one’s limitations isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s an invitation for collaboration and growth.
As someone who has worked as a Creative Director in NYC’s leading ad agencies, I know firsthand what works – and doesn’t work – with managing teams.
So in this article I’m going to explain why it’s highly effective (and more fulfilling) to be a vulnerable leader.
In his illuminating book “Good to Great,” Jim Collins delves deep into this subject. He notes that leaders who embrace vulnerability, also wind up creating a safer space for their teams to be vulnerable too.
All of this openness leads to more candid discussions about problems, mistakes, and challenges. As a result, this vulnerability sets the stage for fixing problems instead of ignoring them – and taking braver chances instead of staying in a comfort zone that becomes a no-growth zone.
In line with this, Harvard professor Amy Edmondson’s studies on psychological safety highlight that teams in psychologically safe environments are more apt to identify and rectify mistakes earlier, fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement.
Furthermore, the respected researcher, Brené Brown, a professor at the University of Houston, encourages being a vulnerable leader. Brown’s research supports the idea that vulnerability is not a weakness, but rather a source of strength and innovation. When you lead by showing your vulnerability you encourage others to bravely share risky ideas, express their outside of the box perspectives, and get out of their comfort zones to seek greater growth.
In addition to the above, consistently studies report that people relate more to someone who authentically admits that they’ve faced challenges and bounced back… compared to someone who pretends they’ve never faced a setback. And so these people enjoy more fulfilling and rewarding relationships with others to boot.
With all this in mind, leaders who are vulnerable thereby become a terrific asset to a business.
So, you’ve made it to the end of the article. Happy to see you here! If you’re ready to move past reading words on a screen and into some real change, let’s chat. I’m a bestselling author and lead behavioral change expert with 2 million books and online courses sold. Book an exploratory call and let’s see how I can help you become your highest potential at work – and beyond.