As an executive or manager, emotional vulnerability can be a significant risk factor.
Trust is the essential thing you can have and build within any culture. And the only way you as a leader can develop trust with others is if you’re willing to be vulnerable. In straightforward terms, this means being more connected to your emotions, letting your guard down, and creating meaningful connections with the people around you and the people working for you.
Being vulnerable doesn’t come without risks; you may have some significant questions and concerns about how appropriate it is to be vulnerable in the workplace. When you lead with vulnerability, vulnerability follows. This is how you develop as a leader. This is how you build stronger teams.
We don’t want to pretend that the risks and concerns don’t exist. So in today’s video, I will reveal the top three perceived risks of being emotionally vulnerable. And why you must take those risks if you want to build a strong culture and increase your bottom line.
FEAR OF JUDGMENT
The top perceived risk I see repeatedly with the people I work with, and I imagine you have also felt this before. It’s a fear of judgment. You don’t want to be judged by the people around you when you’re vulnerable. And you do not want to be perceived as weak.
There’s this belief that if you’re vulnerable, it is a sign of weakness. This is an extension of the old paradigm of leadership, where you were told to step into leadership positions, always from a place of strength, never be vulnerable, and never show signs of weakness. And always tell people that you know exactly what you’re doing every minute of the day. Well, as we know, that’s not real; there’s no way you’ll always know the right thing to do.
The more willing you are to expose yourself in this way, the more people can relate to you. And there’s this old belief that being vulnerable could impact your professional reputation or your ability to hold a position of authority. Well, we’ve learned over time when you’re willing to expose yourself and eager to connect meaningfully. This is actually when you develop a reputation of strength. And when you can have more authority because people ultimately trust you.
The second perceived risk I will talk about today is power dynamics.
There’s a belief that the power dynamics will shift if you expose yourself through vulnerability and allow people to connect with you. You’ll no longer have this upper hand or this position of authority. Then things are going to start to flatten out. And if things flatten out, you may be thinking, well, how the heck are we going to get anything done? Who will respond to who if we’re all sitting on the same level? We may just be stagnant and never be able to push anything forward.
The truth is, on the surface, it may seem this way. And if you’ve never actually practiced it, it’s difficult to tell if this form of communication will be effective.
When people can relate to you in a certain way, yes, you can flatten out in the sense of being able to tell one another from a human level. But you can also still maintain that power dynamic, where people are there to follow your lead. And again, the more vulnerable you are, the more willing people will be to get behind you and move an idea forward.
Or you may have this other concern where you say, okay, if I’m going to be vulnerable and share, what if the people around me don’t share their vulnerabilities? Then what? Well, this is a legitimate concern. Go back to this idea of practice; the more you can practice this, the more you can step forward with the sense of authority that this is who I am. This is where my challenges are, the more you’re going to relate to other people on a human level, the more willing they’ll be to let their guard down and share in their vulnerabilities.
Okay, the third perceived risk I will discuss today is that vulnerability will impact your decision-making.
Suppose you overshare, reveal too much, and get too connected in another person’s life. How will you know if you’re making decisions on a personal level versus a professional level? Is this going to make you more indecisive? Are they going to stop following you as a result? And is it ultimately going to undermine your credibility as a leader?
These are all significant concerns and questions that you may have. And it is worthwhile to consider, okay, I know that I need to be vulnerable. And I know that I need to connect in a meaningful personal manner. But this doesn’t mean that you always have to expose everything in your personal life; there are boundaries that you can create in the process.
You don’t have to tell them everything happening or every decision you’ve ever made; you will have to use discernment in the process and decipher; okay, I know I need to connect with them. But I don’t have to share and expose everything that’s happened. And all of this comes with practice; over time, you’ll start to learn, okay, I know when it’s time to share, when it’s time to connect. And when it’s time to pull away and create a boundary. It’s about open communication. It’s about building the type of culture that you want. And as we shared in the beginning, it’s about building trust. The more you are willing to be vulnerable, the more you’re ready to say, hey, I don’t always have all the answers. I’m going to make some mistakes. I may have my fears. I want to learn about those things from you. This is how you build trust. This is how you make a strong culture. And this ultimately is how you increase your bottom line.
If you’re an executive or business leader and want more support in these areas, I offer individual coaching; check it out here.
We also support companies and teams to get aligned through our Art Of Masterful Communication group coaching program.