The Power of Vulnerability: Why Senior Leaders Should Embrace Authenticity

In today’s go-getter culture, vulnerability can be seen as a weakness. Leaders are often encouraged to be stern and calm, demanding perfection from themselves and others. But the reality is that this only sets the stage for burnout, a toxic work environment, and, ultimately, failure. The truth is that no one is perfect, and embracing your humanity is the only way to build lasting success. Here is what all senior leaders need to know.

The Benefits of Vulnerability

Embracing vulnerability has numerous benefits. Here are just a few:

  • Taking risks. A commitment to perfection can make you afraid to fail. And any risk increases the likelihood of failure. If you’re unwilling to be vulnerable, you’re likelier to cling to the status quo rather than take the risks associated with new ideas.
  • Building relationships. Your team members aren’t perfect, and an environment that values toughness can create a culture of fear. If you want your employees to feel comfortable innovating and doing their best work, they need to know that you are genuinely on their side.
  • Emotional intelligence. People willing to be vulnerable tend to have higher emotional intelligence. This makes you a more effective leader, better able to navigate the complexities of working with human beings.

Becoming More Vulnerable at Work

So how can you drop your guard and become more vulnerable at work? Here are a few tips:

  • Lean into the discomfort. Vulnerability can feel very exposed and uncomfortable, especially in the beginning. And that’s okay. Learn to sit with your pain and find the opportunities in your feelings.
  • Drop your persona. As a senior leader, you probably have an image that you want to portray to the world. But what happens if you let that go? Forget who you think you should be at work and start acting like your true self.
  • Own your mistakes. This can be one of the hardest things for someone who wants to appear tough. But it’s essential to embrace your vulnerability. You are human, and you will make mistakes. Own them, apologize for them, find solutions, and move on.
  • Open the lines of communication. Get rid of the belief that you always know what’s best. Listen openly to what everyone says, from your most trusted advisor to your front-line employees. You don’t have to act on all the feedback you receive, but take the time to consider it honestly, without preconceived notions or judgments.

Vulnerability can feel like a weakness. But when you’re in senior leadership, becoming vulnerable is the best thing you can do to enhance your company’s success.

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