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Why It’s Ok As A Leader To Feel Your Feelings And Be Vulnerable

By May 6, 2020No Comments

Admitting you make mistakes, aren’t certain of the next step or dare to let your guard down doesn’t mean you’re not built for the top.

To feel vulnerable isn’t actually a choice.

To be human is to be vulnerable. The choice is whether we hide our vulnerability, or bring it into the light and embrace it.

Many leaders choose the first option – demanding themselves to exude confidence, competence, and authority 24/7.

But is this what teams really want from their leaders?

Or, what leaders really want for themselves? It can be exhausting trying to keep your emotional guard up every minute of the workday.

Expert on social connection and best-selling author Brené Brown defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.

In her wildly popular Ted Talk, The Power Of Vulnerability, Brown puts vulnerability and authenticity at the root of all human connection.

Great leaders know authenticity promotes innovation and collaboration, invites self-awareness and shapes a transparent organisational culture.

Have you struggled with the idea of showing any sign of ‘weakness’ or ‘being soft’ as a leader?

Read on for the reasons why tapping into your vulnerability can transform your professional success.

Boosts creativity and innovation

It’s actually not your job as a leader to come up with all the answers and all the ideas.

Sure, the more industry experience you gain, the more answers you’ll have but it doesn’t mean you’ll always know what to do.

Being good at what you do doesn’t always mean being right and handing out directions for your team to follow like robots.

Some leaders feel vulnerable if they don’t have a solution for every problem.

If that sounds like you, let go.

Acknowledge you don’t have all the answers and invite ideas from others – be it your team or other peers in leadership roles. You’ll throw the doors of innovation wide open.

Trying to come up with all the answers yourself busts collective creativity – you need to give your team the freedom to speak up with their ideas and solutions.

Avoids fostering a corrosive culture of blame and fear

Every time we step out of our comfort zone, we become vulnerable – to fears of failure, risk, uncertainty.

Leaders who are comfortable with being vulnerable can push the edges of their capabilities – and be ok if it doesn’t work out.  They’re open to sharing their lessons and mistakes and encourage the same from their team.

On the other hand, leaders who fear any cracks showing in their approach won’t take the same sort of risks. They usually choose to be safe over being wrong and can have a low tolerance for their staff messing up.

With this type of leadership, teams can come to fear making mistakes. This leads to a corrosive culture of hidden issues and blame, not to mention no-one ever daring to speak up or try something new.

Embrace vulnerability – yours and your teams – to create a transparent, trusting workplace environment.

Vulnerability fuels strong connections

Having the courage to be real with your team is a relationship-building superpower.

Showing your team when you’re frustrated, happy or even stumped by a challenge opens the door to building real, solid connections with your team.

Leaders who show vulnerability have an ability to rally people together for a cause or project where they may risk falling short in the process.

They’re also honest enough to acknowledge what’s not working.

You don’t need to be in control all the time. You’re human. You won’t lose the respect of your team and the organisation won’t come crumbling down if you waver or dare to be vulnerable.

Bottling up your feelings takes a big emotional toll

Constantly being on guard and hiding your vulnerabilities can be exhausting.

As a leader, you feel the pressure to exude confidence and poise, which often means pushing your feelings down and hiding them.

The result? Continued frustration and stress – the longer it goes on, the worse the situation becomes.

In The Power Of Vulnerability, Brown offers an alternative – becoming more self-aware.

Self-awareness allows us to explore and identify what we’re thinking and feeling at any given moment. When we become more self-aware we aren’t shamed by our emotions – instead, we gain perspective and acceptance as we explore them deeper.

How does this self-awareness help you as a leader? Accepting instead of denying or hiding what you perceive to be a weakness or vulnerability is getting in touch with your authentic self.

This authenticity will have a domino effect into all areas, including your professional life.

Authentic leaders are a truly special breed – comfortable with uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.

As a result they’re courageous, lead boldly and inspire loyalty and excellence from their teams. 

As Brown put it herself –  “Vulnerability is the best measure of courage”

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