When we think of leadership, such characteristics may come to mind as ‘visionary,’ ‘charismatic’ or ‘confident.’ ‘Vulnerable’ probably does not immediately spring to our thoughts. Leaders are often afraid to show vulnerability and assume it is a sign of weakness. Yet showing vulnerability demonstrates the courage to be yourself and to express authenticity and honesty, two essential traits for strong leadership. When leaders acknowledge their faults, their fears and that they don’t know all the answers, they enhance connections.

Vulnerability in leaders can drive productivity, engagement and innovation.  It is refreshing to see a leader admit that they don’t have all the answers. True leadership is about enabling the full potential of your team. Humans are wired to help one another. As a leader, you need to rely on other people for support, knowledge and answers to challenges. Studies have proven that leadership vulnerability leads to effective and healthier workplaces. If a leader demonstrates authentic behaviour, they can develop meaningful, trusting connections with others. Trust is critical, and without it the company will suffer. Vulnerable leaders inspire and understand the values, beliefs and motivations of others.

Vulnerability is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of courage. The key is determining the right time and place to showcase it. The balance of vulnerability and strength can enhance teamwork, inclusiveness and a more engaged workforce. When employees are disengaged they tend to disconnect emotionally and their productivity declines. Vulnerable, authentic leadership generates positive behaviour, it is a catalyst for connection and team effectiveness.

Leaders who wish to embrace vulnerability may need to let go of the following:

  • Perfectionism.
  • Control
  • Feelings of powerlessness.
  • Worrying about what people think or say about you.
  • Comparing yourself with others.
  • Worrying about yourself as a status symbol or public figure.
  • Anxiety and self-doubt.

Remember, there is no shame in accepting that things may not always turn out as expected. Perfection doesn’t equal success. As Winston Churchill said, ‘Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.’

True leaders are human, it is not just about acting like a leader. True leadership is what drives organisational performance. ‘Fake’ leadership only damages relationships and hinders results. Vulnerability can fuel growth and success. If you aspire to be a vulnerable leader, try reaching out to those in need of help, be understanding of mistakes and errors in judgement, take responsibility for your actions, practice forgiveness and ask for help when you need it. Take time for self-reflection and be open to learning from others. Your team will view you as a human instead of just ‘the boss.’ This fosters respect, and if your team respects you they will be willing to go above and beyond for you.

The power of vulnerable leadership:

  • It inspires team members to work together towards growth.
  • It equates to authenticity which is the foundation of trust.
  • It encourages a flow of ideas, innovation and creativity.
  • It provides opportunities for collaborative problem-solving.
  • It encourages healthy risk-taking and accountability.
  • It leads to cooperation and better teamwork.
  • It minimises work related stress and tension.
  • It helps build stronger bonds and enhances emotional connections.

Transform corporate culture by practicing vulnerability today. Inspire your team to buy into your vision and help you achieve it. Being human is the ultimate form of leadership.

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