We Need Vulnerability in the Workplace

Brene brown quote

Many people feel that the workplace and vulnerability should be mutually exclusive. For many people, especially in leadership roles, copious hours are spent trying to cover up their weaknesses and challenges. The underlying fear is often, if they find out what I don’t know, I’ll be ruined. This is a fear based way to operate and has a tendency to decrease trust and respect.

The reality is that true vulnerability can reap huge benefits for the team. As humans, we are imperfect by definition and so are flawed. And the wonderful thing is that when we are real with others – warts and all – people will also open up to us.

So how might you bring your own vulnerability into your team environment?

  1. Stop Comparing yourself to others. You need to step out of judgement as the process of making snap judgements about others (and yourself) prevents the confidence to share opening and ask for help. So when you hear that little voice in your head, simply take a deep breath and reframe your thoughts to more kind and helpful.
  2. Take Risks. What could you share with your team that would invite them to support you? Perhaps it’s a current challenge that you are struggling to resolve – and you simply could ask for help. Or, you might take a bigger risk to share an area where you know that others on the team have strengths in the area. Imagine how powerful it would be to fully acknowledge your team member and celebrate their success. You will be able to see them fully.
  3. Be willing to share your mistakes. And the learning that came from them. We often say that mistakes are only mistakes when we fail to learn from them. Then we hide our “mistakes” and learning – the underlying message is that is really isn’t okay to make mistakes – that they equate failure. Share those valuable nuggets of insight that you have gleaned from your personal experience.
  4. Ask for Help. What if asking for help was a strength? Well, I’m telling you it is! When we ask for help we stop struggling – and our stress level can decrease. A side effect is that, as we invite others to support us, we enable them to shine in their brilliance.
  5. Invite others to show up authentically. Once you role model that being human, a.k.a. vulnerable, others will be given permission to follow. Once individuals share their work challenges – you allow others to step into their genius and then they get to shine in their area of expertise. Imagine the incredible improvement in team projects.

Vulnerability is the place where we fully acknowledge ourselves, let ourselves be okay as we are, and enable ourselves to be supportive. Some vulnerability is required to have your team dynamics functional. When team members hold themselves apart from others, not sharing their truth and challenges, it simply prevents trust from forming.

Take the first step, open yourself up and invite your direct reports to do the same. Once this level of trust is established, your team results will soar.

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