3 Ways Vulnerability Shapes Better Leaders

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In many circles, acknowledging vulnerability is like admitting to a major character flaw. For decades, we have been taught that leaders should be calm, decisive and pillars of strength. While conventional wisdom says that being weak is a weakness, the opposite truth is that it can be a leader’s greatest strength. Vulnerability should be redefined as having the courage to be yourself and building genuine, human relationships with employees, rather than being perceived as submissive or vulnerable.

That’s the idea behind my project Vivid Minds. It is a place for leaders and visionaries to be candid about their challenges and how these moments shaped their lives. experts agree That vulnerability shapes better leaders. Here are three reasons:

RELATED: Why Vulnerability Is a Strong Business Leader’s Most Powerful Weapon

1. It Makes You More Trustworthy and Empathetic

Doctor Brene Brown has studied the idea of ​​vulnerability for years. that and other researchers has found that vulnerability, or “emotional exposure”, is far more effective than maintaining “professional distance” when bringing a team together.

At a recent event hosted by Parlor Social Club, thought leader and performance coach David Bishop, who formerly led MGM and Sony, explained his research.human-centered leadershipHe and several colleagues note that authenticity (another way to frame vulnerability) is a key component of being a successful leader.

When a founder can admit to their team that they are not in the right emotional headspace for a meeting or are distracted by a personal emergency, it shows a level of humanity that employees both resonate with and appreciate. .

The thing about this is that your team can tell when something is not right. As humans, we are uniquely wired to read facial expressions, intonation, and body language as a way of shaping our conversations. So, your team may subconsciously pick up on these signs Even if you try to hide them.

When there is a clear discrepancy between your expressions and your words, the feeling of inauthenticity can make subordinates feel uncomfortable and alienated from you. Thus, when you have the courage to be honest and open with your team, they can feel it, making them feel more empathetic and trusting in you.

2. It Helps Your Team Believe in Your Purpose

Often, entrepreneurs start a business because they feel passionate about solving a problem or changing the way they do something. In many cases, founders start companies as a response to their personal stories. Sharing the raw, sometimes uncomfortable or “messy” truth behind their motivation is the kind of vulnerability that can create a powerful, tight-lipped team of like-minded individuals.

is an example the story of shane heathThe brains behind MUDWTR, the coffee alternative brand. Heath spent years in the heart of Silicon Valley, working for tech companies and co-founding two of his own companies. During this entire time, he became highly addicted to caffeine. However, he noticed that as he drank more coffee, his mental health was deteriorating.

As he began to consider this and experiment with alternatives that would allow him to enjoy the “coffee ritual” without the adverse side effects, he settled on a blend of tea, spices, and adaptations that he jokingly called “mud. ” Told. ,

His openness and vulnerability to all of the past conflicts that led him to create MUDWTR allowed him to surround himself with a team of investors, partners, and employees who not only believed in him, but He also believed in his mission.

Vulnerability allows people to resonate deeply with your passion. This ignites a spark which makes them extremely loyal and eager to give their all.

RELATED: Vulnerability Makes a Leader Strong, Not Weak

3. It Gets You Through Hard Times

Every founder knows that difficulties can come at any time. For Archana Pachirjana, the difficulty came from the lack of capital. She had to assemble her team and announce that she had to let them go, as she could no longer pay them.

However, his team unanimously agreed that they would take a 50% pay cut instead of letting the company go. After a few years of hard work, Pachirajan was able to sell the company for $14 million. That company is Hubble, a well-known digital marketing brand. Since then, Pachirajan has worked on several startups, and his employees follow him for each new venture.

When asked why he stands with her so strongly, the answers were all kinds of “because he’s a real, people-first leader.” Employees noted that she maintains a family dynamic with everyone and chooses to be honest about her weaknesses and doubts. She puts time and effort into a personal relationship with each employee, so they are willing to stand by her through successes and failures.

in his book dare to leadBrené Brown says, “The courage to be weak isn’t about winning or losing. It’s about having the courage when you can’t predict or control the outcome.”

This sentiment is especially relevant for entrepreneurs. Founders can’t always predict or control their company’s path, but having the courage to be vulnerable and authentic with your team during tough times can build a strong bond that lasts even when the company is no more.

Such vulnerability positively affects the mental health of the founders. It can be difficult to feel like you have to carry the weight of a struggling organization alone. It can also cause severe irritation, depression or resentment. Sharing your struggles allows others to help you bear the burden or provide empathy and emotional support.

RELATED: Your Team Will Love You More When You Stop Trying To Be Perfect

Understanding what it takes to be a good leader is challenging at the best of times. When you subscribe to the erroneous and outdated belief that a leader should project a “cool, calm and composed” image no matter what, it makes the job nearly impossible.

The truth is that vulnerability is an asset to great leaders. Choosing to lean into authenticity and vulnerability allows you to inspire and connect with people on a deeper, more meaningful level, making you a leader that people are eager to follow.