Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast! Last week we talked about the value of being vulnerable, but that doesn't mean that being vulnerable is easy. While there are many benefits for your team and organization, you have to be careful that you do it right. This week, we're talking about the mistakes many leaders make when trying to create a culture of vulnerability and how to avoid them.
Why do leaders avoid being vulnerable?
Many leaders think vulnerability will ruin their leadership brand. However, the opposite is true! Employees report feeling that leaders who show vulnerability are strong and effective, making it easier for people to connect, trust, share common goals, and work together.
1. Getting Defensive
When you give your staff a chance to be vulnerable, you'll likely hear negative feedback. Resist the urge to take it personally. Remain calm, hear your team out, and then dig deeper to understand why they feel frustrated or angry. Ask open-ended questions so that you can gather all of the information. Furthermore, you are much less likely to sound defensive when you ask questions.
2. Avoiding uncomfortable moments
It can feel awkward to have conversations about your emotions in professional settings. Remember that the discomfort is temporary, and your efforts will help your entire team grow. In fact, you can celebrate uncomfortable conversations because it means your culture is changing!
3. Getting frustrated
Changing the culture of your team and organization will take time. Sometimes the conversations you have when you're vulnerable can leave you feeling depleted. You might worry if you said the wrong thing or went too far. Don't worry about the details. Grow from every conversation and celebrate the changes you are seeing!
One easy way to start being vulnerable without oversharing is to share a difficult situation that you went through earlier in your career. If you feel like your team might be struggling with burnout, share a time you wrestled with burnout, how it affected you, and what you did to help resolve the situation. If your company is facing uncertainty, talk about another time you went through a period of uncertainty and how your team helped you get through it. Showing your employees that they are not alone will encourage them to open up and work toward solutions.
People are afraid that if they are vulnerable, their boss will get mad or try to convince them that their problem isn't real. You have to manage your own emotions and make sure you do not come off defensive. Before you sit down to have a vulnerable conversation, think about your triggers. What topics make you feel insecure? What areas of your leadership do you know you need to improve? What excuses do you usually make when people criticize you? By evaluating these triggers ahead of time, you will be better prepared to respond with patience and an open mind.
If your team is struggling to be vulnerable or you feel like the culture shift will be a shock to your team, try starting by studying a book together. Explain that you want to change the way you do business so that the whole team can be stronger and healthier. Make a point to emphasize the benefits of vulnerability as you study the book and share from your own experience as often as you can. Consider a book like "The Culture Code" or "The Culture Question."