One Foot Out

Vulnerability & Leadership: Power Combo. Powerfully uncomfortable.

vulnerability and leadership

First, let’s be vulnerable.

It’s hard to write an article like this without feeling imposter syndrome, especially when you know that experts like Brene Brown have dedicated their careers to studying and eloquently sharing vulnerability and leadership.

That being said, based on our experience, vulnerability is something we constantly grapple with, and we often see others struggling with it too. Interestingly, when running workshops, we’re often surprised by how people open up and show vulnerability. There’s something about a well-led workshop that brings it out in people, and we absolutely love it. It never fails to feel powerful.

But why should we even care about vulnerability in leadership?

Well, vulnerability fosters psychological safety, which is crucial for team success. It allows for openness to criticism, ensuring that we hear what people truly think. Moreover, vulnerability promotes transparency, and individuals and teams are yearning for that.

We like to think of vulnerability as getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. And leaders face discomfort on a daily basis. So, by exercising our vulnerability muscle, we not only build strong and healthier teams but also improve and excel—lovely!

Now, how do you grow your vulnerability muscle?

1. Share, but don’t overshare

Talk about your experiences, whether they are failures, fears, or moments when you received tough feedback. One example from our own team is sharing parenting and work challenges, creating a space for a deeper shared experience.

2. Get curious instead of defensive

It’s natural to have a knee-jerk reaction to explain your behavior, but try modeling the act of receiving feedback by asking questions about it. Delving deeper into the issue can be more revealing anyway.

3. Stay humble

Acknowledge others’ knowledge. If someone is better than you at something, let them know. Ask for help when you need it, and constructive feedback when asked.

4. Set boundaries and respect them

Don’t hesitate to share in a meeting that you have a doctor’s appointment or need to pick up your kid. Showing your priorities allows others to show theirs. Live by your values and allow others to live by theirs.

5. Be generous in your assumptions

Assume the best, not the worst, intentions from others. This can be challenging unless you have a charged trust battery!

If you’re interested in workshops that focus on developing vulnerability skills in leadership teams, head this way.