Hello SOTGC community,
We all know professional women who are filled with the kind of bravado that takes them to great lengths to hide any indication of weakness. No matter what happens, they “know it all.” At every essence of their being is the fierce belief that showing any hint of vulnerability could cause them to be seen as weak. This arrogance couldn’t be more mistaken. The hardest thing about being a leader is demonstrating vulnerability. Think of it this way… when a leader demonstrates vulnerability and sensibility and brings people together, everyone wins.
I remember back when first entered the workforce I was told by a professional women I admired, lets call her Mary, “don’t show your emotions at the office, you’ll be seen as weak.” I never forgot those words as I moved up into my executive seat.
That ole viewpoint is old school. Great leaders need to have courage and self-awareness to understand that being vulnerable is a sign of strength to lead with conviction. Vulnerability is not a weakness, far from the truth. The boldest act of a leader is to be openly vulnerable. This is a BIG mindset shift. You need to see the objectives of the business through the eyes of the people you lead. This invites inclusion and they become the drivers of business success. When you are vulnerable and involve your team they will feel more connected, respected, and invested in the success of the business.
Vulnerable leaders are exceptional at discovering the authenticity of the team and see the business from the eyes of those they serve. Here are four strategies to better understanding vulnerability is not a weakness:
- Change your vulnerability mindset. I agree leaders almost always feel the pressure to perform at higher standards than others. Leaders paint the vision, create the ideas and execute. Consider this: allow your team to drive the conversation. Just sit and listen! Be a better leader by fully hearing your team’s ideas.
- Accept vulnerability as your strength. Vulnerability is not a weakness. In fact, your vulnerability adds to your credibility. Be seen as a real person. You can stop wasting your energy to be something your not. Leaders don’t have all the answers; great leaders allow the answers to happen organically through their team. There is no going it alone. Get it right the first time by putting together a team that will heighten your real weaknesses.
- Become a mentor of vulnerability. I told you earlier about Mary saying to me “don’t show your emotions at the office.” I am sure that was the behavior at that time. Today you need to be a student of vulnerability. Practicing this behavior yourself and sharing with other professional women.
- Let it all hang out. Let’s be clear being vulnerable and letting all your personal details hang out isn’t always in good taste. Share your candid information with people who have earned your trust to hear your sensitive stories.
Vulnerability is frightening for many of us. We don’t want to look weak to our peers. Recognize and own your vulnerability, it is a form of courage. Next time you’re team is faced with a challenge, your response is a simple “I don’t have all the answers. Lets work it out together.” It doesn’t get as vulnerable as this.