“There is no such thing as perfection.” I am sure that you all heard this saying before and that you agree with it. However, when it comes to sharing our mistakes, insecurities and fears with others, we tend to suddenly forget this. Let’s be honest, we’ve all had moments that we are struggling, doubting ourselves, or are afraid to make mistakes. Leaders are no different and experience these same feelings.
So why is it then so hard to show our imperfections and be vulnerable as a leader? One of the reasons is that we often (falsely) believe vulnerability is a sign of weakness and that a leader who shows vulnerability will lose the respect of his colleagues. However, “People want to work for someone that is real, someone that they believe in," said Heather Monahan, founder of #BossinHeels, a career mentoring group. "By pretending to be perfect, you alienate yourself from everyone else." In other words, vulnerability is seen as courageous and strong in others, but as a weakness in ourselves (Brené Brown).
This double standerd prevents leaders of enjoying the benefits that practicing vulnerability could bring to their team. Greater creativity, innovation, risk taking, trying new things, dealing with the discomfort of failure being an option being only a few of the advantages of vulnerable leadership where vulnerability and leadership go hand in hand. They both require showing up in a way that exposes us: leading and vulnerability will not automatically lead to success. Showing up like this takes real courage. We might even conclude that courage, vulnerability and leadership all go hand in hand in hand. Meaning that vulnerable leaders are by far the most courageous (Brené Brown).
But how can you as a leader start practicing vulnerability with your team? NNORM listed 4 tips that can help to get you started:
1. Tackle self-doubts & confide in your team
As said previously, we all have moments that we doubt ourselves. The first step in practicing vulnerability is becoming aware of your doubts and acknowledge the feelings that come with it. Because when ignoring these feelings, you only give them more control over you. This is something that I very often struggle with myself. So I started researching tools that could help me overcome these feelings. I came across this article on Medium that resonated with me and that I would like to share. The next time you’re doubting yourself, ask yourself these two questions:
What’s most meaningful in what I’m doing right now? A question that will help you to get back to your meaning, your ‘why’, your purpose. This will give you perspective, and the ups and downs of life will become less important.
What actions can I take right now that will move me closer to creating what I desire? Reflecting on this question will open your perspective and create an abundance of possibilities to get you closer to your ‘why.’
Now that you have a clearer view on what is holding you back, all that is left is to share this with others and set an example. As a leader, you want to set a good example for your co-workers. This means that giving an honest representation of your strengths and imperfections is key! If not, you will only give your team unrealistic expectations.
Sharing your struggles is a great way to encourage mistakes and healthy risk-taking. It also allows your team to see a more personal side of you, it shows that you trust them, that you value their support, and feedback. All factors that will help to strengthen your bond with them. “When leaders are humble and express vulnerabilities in this way, it actually comes across as courage and daring. When you share those experiences, it builds rapport and confidence for everyone." said Hawkes.
2. Admit mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes, even team leaders! If you make mistakes, don’t try to cover it up. This will give your team the impression that it isn’t okay to make mistakes, which will result in fear of failure on their side. As you can imagine, this is the opposite we want to achieve when creating safe teams.
"When leaders admit their own mistakes, it communicates authenticity and humility," said Hawkes. "Their employees can see that they are comfortable taking accountability themselves, not just expecting accountability from others. This increases respect from employees and leads to a more connected and dedicated team because the leader is modeling the behavior, and that is visceral, not conceptual."
Our advice to you: take the time on a regular basis to not only share success but also to share failures within the team and celebrate them. Maybe the time has come to have a ‘wall of fail?’
3. Accept help
As a team leader, you are used of people coming to you for help. But this doesn’t have to be a one-way street. You can also ask and accept help from your team.
"It is important to remember that even the best leaders need help and, in fact, knowing when they need help is part of what makes them so effective. When a leader does not accept help graciously, they are denying the other person the good feelings they would otherwise enjoy by helping, which is actually selfish," said Hawkes. "When a leader accepts help, it gives the other person the gift of contributing and being part of the solution as a teammate, not a follower” (Hawkes, 2017).
4. Do a (virtual) team building
When there is a strong team bond, it is easier to practice vulnerability. Why? People are more open and understanding towards people they know and trust. When you work on trust and conenction witthin the team, it well automatically become easier to be vulnerable and to appreciate vunerability from others. Tailored team buildings with a focus on creating trust, connection, improving communication and collaboration could help you achieve this. At NNORM we've created an online boost-your-bond team buiilding that does exactly that. These are some to the outcomes that you can expect after doing a team building with us
One step closer in having a team that's build on trust
Feel better connected to your colleagues
Be able to work together efficiently despite everyone's difference and past conflicts
Have a strong team vision to strive for together
You can openly share what you think in team meetings, without stressing over it
Building the foundations for a team that continuously grows and supports one another.
The Boost-Your-Bond team building is still on sale, don't hesitate to try it out and make your team a safer place to work in. Have a look at our shop for more info