The Power of Vulnerability in Leadership Roles

Sounds like a bit of a paradox, doesn’t it? Power doesn’t belong to vulnerable people—it’s in its very definition.

Or is it?

Is it difficult? Yes. Is it unnatural? It may feel that way at first, but that doesn’t mean it is. Showing vulnerability in a leadership position could go a long way to building credibility and trust among your employees.

Let’s talk about what I mean when I say vulnerability. It doesn’t mean breaking down in front of employees, or having everyday conversations about deeply personal topics.

It just means being human.

Human as in letting your passions show or allowing your strengths and weaknesses come across authentically, without pretense. Leaders can do this in the context of a work environment and show that, yep, they’re human too. But the key is—doing this authentically. If authenticity is taken out of the equation, vulnerability only breeds cynicism.

In the end, vulnerability is not a sign of weakness—it’s a sign of strength—and courage, too. Here are some simple ways to achieve transformational leadership:

  1. Become Self-Aware: Be mindful of the present. What makes you feel vulnerable? Is this something that you don’t accept about yourself? If so, this is something that could be interfering with your role as a leader.
  2. Reveal Something: Share something about your background, a story, or a failure or setback where you learned something valuable. Open up.
  3. Admit when you’re wrong: Accept your mistakes and create a culture of accountability within your organization. This can also adapt a culture of innovation, where people aren’t afraid to experiment with new ways of doing or thinking about things.
  4. Celebrate imperfections: Compliment the strange in yourself and your employees. Often, those idiosyncrasies are the unique qualities that make someone different—the very area that you could capitalize on to propel your company to success.

When it comes to talent management, think of vulnerability as a valuable asset in an employee. The honesty of being in a state of vulnerability can open communication lines between employee and manager, and, ultimately, set your company up for success.