It's sage advice (from African origins, in case you wanted to know) that basically calls out hypocrites. Why would you take a shirt from someone who's not wearing one? What don't you know, or what are you missing out on?
This is also a powerful metaphor for how we should approach vulnerability in our professional lives. Vulnerability has long been seen as a sign of weakness, but as leaders in the business world, we need to embrace it.
If you don't share, no one else is going to share back. You cannot command your team to share and be vulnerable with you. Without vulnerability, leaders will struggle to build any resemblance of trust.
Think about the last time you really needed help at work. Maybe you were struggling to meet a deadline or feeling overwhelmed by a project. What did you do? Who did you go to?
Chances are, you didn't go to your boss and say, "I'm feeling really stressed out, and I need some help." You probably went to a colleague or friend and confided in them.
Why? Because you needed to feel safe.
Vulnerability requires a certain level of safety and trust, both essential in any relationship - personal or professional. If you can start bringing it into your day-to-day life, you'll find that it's actually a strength.
If you show vulnerability, then you're enabling your team to show it. This creates a more open, honest, and trusting environment where you can truly get stuff done.
Here are three ways to make this easy!
1. Create environments that expect vulnerability
The first way to show vulnerability as a leader is by creating an environment where it's expected. The best way to do this is to open up and share how you feel whenever you get the opportunity to do so. This sets the tone for others to do the same.
If you're the type of leader who is usually very stoic, this may feel like a bit of a stretch. But I promise you, it will make all the difference. Your team will feel appreciated and valued, and they'll be more likely to open up to you when they need to.
A simple example of when you could do this could be when you're giving feedback.
Instead of saying, "you did a great job on that presentation," try "I was really nervous when I did my first presentation to the board back in the day, but you handled it so well!"
This shows not only vulnerability but also empathy, which is another essential trait of a good leader.
2. Use emotional language instead of facts and figures
You might be keen to share facts and figures like how much revenue your company made last quarter or how many new customers you acquired. But instead of just sharing the numbers, try adding in a personal story to go along with it.
You could say something like, "I remember when we were first starting out, and we didn't have any money coming in. I was really worried about how we were going to make ends meet. But then we had our first big breakthrough, and it was such an amazing feeling."
This type of emotional language will resonate with your team more than just the numbers because they can relate to the feelings you're describing. And when they feel connected to you, they'll be more likely to trust you and follow you.
If you're having a bad week, don't just make your team feel bad by bombarding them with figures and statistics. Instead, be open and talk about the issues you've had and the issues your team has had. This way, they can understand where you're coming from and offer their support.
In the future, they're much more likely to be open about problems they're having, and you may be able to prevent them from becoming issues entirely!
3. Tell your team about your appreciation for them
The third way to show vulnerability as a leader is by telling your team about your appreciation for them.
This could be done in several ways, but one way is to write handwritten notes or send emails expressing your gratitude. Another way is to express your appreciation in team meetings or one-on-one conversations verbally.
It goes a long way when you take the time to show your team how much you appreciate them. They'll feel valued and appreciated, and they'll be more likely to stick with you through thick and thin.
It doesn't even have to be anything big! It's incredible how far something as simple as a thank you coffee can go.
Over to you!
These are just a few ways to show vulnerability as a leader in business. I encourage you to give them a try and see how it goes! Vulnerability may be seen as a weakness, but in reality, it's a strength. When you're able to embrace it, you'll find the power of connection and courageous conversations.
We hope you find these tips helpful and would love to hear about your experiences with vulnerability in leadership!!!
At Blue Mercury, we love to support people to have effective, vulnerable, honest communication. Whether at work or at home. If you are interested in making the most of your collaboration, Check out some details here or contact us for more information!