Vulnerability in Leadership

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the value of vulnerability in leadership. We have plenty of research to demonstrate the benefits – but we know less about WHY it’s so beneficial. Here’s my theory.

Vulnerability in a leader demonstrates their good judgment. When leaders admit their doubts and mistakes, they are admitting their own fallibility. 

We all know instinctively that nobody is infallible. Leaders who never admit to their own faults are either lying or lacking in self-awareness – neither of which inspires much confidence in their good judgment.

But the leader who admits, “Here’s the mistake I made in the past, and here’s what I learned so I can do better next time” – that’s a leader we can trust. 

We know they’re honest. We know they’re self aware. We know that they have the good judgment to accurately evaluate their own shortcomings, and make improvements as needed. 

If they do that for themselves, they can be trusted to do it for the business.

Of course leaders need to be appropriate in their level of vulnerability in the workplace. Oversharing personal details or throwing up your hands in despair will do just as much damage as projecting an infallible confidence.

If you’re having trouble finding that line between appropriate and inappropriate vulnerability as a leader, just ask yourself, “Will sharing this help people trust my judgment?” 

If the answer is yes, I’m betting that by sharing it you will build your team’s faith in your leadership.