It's something that doesn’t get talked about in leadership circles very often. Vulnerability. We have this image, an artificial image in my view, of what a great leader looks like. Very stoic. “Nothing hurts me. I’m just… I’m the man.”
We have a very male-dominated thinking around what a great leader looks like. We go to Braveheart, Donald Trump, and Patton, General Patton. Very larger-than-life characters that have a very sort of singular view of the world, not what you’d call vulnerable.
And yet, I believe vulnerability is, or a willingness to be vulnerable, is a great way of engaging with team.
You don’t have to have all the answers.
You can ask.
In fact, if you do ask, you build collaboration. You’re willing to go, “You know what? I have really no idea what we should do about this issue. What do you think?” And bring the team in.
That’s okay. Be vulnerable. It’s okay to not know, but ask and find out. It’s okay to get things wrong and to fail and have a crack at something. It didn’t work. Learn from that though. You know, fail, fail fast, fail forward.
There’s a few cliches around doing that, but take a risk, have a crack. If it doesn’t work, learn from what it is that you’ve had a go at. Learn from those mistakes. Be better next time and keep growing. Keep credit getting better. But if you’re not willing to be vulnerable, you won’t engage those around you. You’ll kind of fly with a half-baked solution because you feel like you need to have the answer and it’s just not effective.
So, just be willing to put your pride to one side and go, “Wow, you know what? I just got that wrong.”
As a leader, one of the most powerful things you can do is say sorry. It’s like a parent. We get things wrong, we do things wrong, and we’re all human. And when we get it horribly wrong just to go, “Hey mate, I’m so sorry. That wasn’t appropriate. I shouldn’t have done that.” Or “That was not the best way to handle it. I’ve learned from that.”, “I’ll do better next time. I really appreciate having you in the team.”
It takes a little bit of of courage to be vulnerable. Those things seem to be opposite.
Vulnerability, we tend to think of it as a weakness. It’s actually a strength.
We’re willing to be human. It’s part of our authenticity, and as you’ll hear me say a thousand times:
Being authentic is what makes a great leader.
You being you, being willing to be vulnerable, embracing those around you in a way that is authentic is what will make you a great leader.