How to Show Vulnerability as a Leader

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One of the biggest mistakes leaders make, young and old, within business and outside, is that they all too often cover up their vulnerabilities and act as though they’re impervious to emotional pain. Not only is this obviously untrue, but it’s also a stance that can hurt your company in the long run.

For one thing, your employees want to know that they’re working for a person who cares and empathizes with others, not an emotionless egotistical psychopath who refuses to admit any weakness. As such, projecting an aura of invulnerability can really result in a culture of unapproachability, which is never something you want to follow you in business. There’s also the fact that your claim of invulnerability is likely to come off as a lie – never a good trait for leaders.

But how can you show vulnerability as a leader without looking “weak?”

“Weak” Versus “Human”

First, it’s vital to distinguish between looking “weak” and “human.” Making mistakes, failing from time to time – that’s human. Everyone does that, including your employees, and they’ll want to know that they’re not the end of the world. Projecting a façade of invulnerability can make everyone tense. Allowing for brief vulnerability can help people empathize and, thus, connect as a team.

Toxic Culture

One of the modern sources of this invulnerability myth is toxic masculinity and, to an extent, toxic femininity. The former too often scorns emotions as “weak,” leading to repressed rage and the kind of appearance of false stoicism and transparent insincerity we discussed before. The latter too often seeks to compensate for the very real problem of sexism and women being marginalized at work by going the other direction and becoming overly aggressive and hostile.

Sharing vulnerabilities can help you connect, become relatable, and succeed in interpersonal business ventures. Personal or workplace toxicity creating a lie of invulnerability will simply poison all that.

A Loss of Confidence 

Think admitting to vulnerabilities and mistakes will cause people to lose confidence? Think again. While some people will always be petty and pounce on the vulnerable, those with brains and emotional cores understand that revealing vulnerabilities takes courage and is, indeed, a sign of moral fiber and strength.

Honesty in showing vulnerability is a vital strategy for dealing with tough times and setbacks in business and life.

from Dan Idhenga | Leadership

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