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Vulnerability, manliness and business success.


I'm going to be that person.. who says they were recently reading an article in the HBR. But bear with me... I promise it was interesting.

It was about masculinity and how competition in the workplace can hinder success of a company, both through its culture, but also their bottom line.


At the same time, a captivating short video from Pixar also was also shared with me, about the impact of male similarity in the workplace, can impact a business.


In New Zealand and around the world, there are plenty of companies that have an expectation of toughness, ruthlessness and competition and the idea of ‘vulnerability’ is a curse word.


I know they exist.

I have been part of them.

I would even say there are times I have been the transmitter of these expectations.


Competitions on who works the hardest, who works the most hours in a day/week, letting nothing interfere with work – sickness, injury, personal commitments – are for the weak, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, I can do everything and still run rings around my ‘competition’.


As someone who has personally worked for those traditional male-dominated industries, such as sales, recruitment, finance, and the military –

I am here to admit, the idea of ‘manning’ up must go.


Traits such as emotional toughness, rational thinking, and physical stamina – have always been seen as masculine depictions, while “feminine” values such as caretaking and work/life balance are discouraged. If 2020 has taught us anything, its that we need to think about how we:

- want to feel at work and at home,

- can control or focus this to our advantage,

- can celebrate the differences we have within our teams, and

- can use feelings to create a more engaged, supported and productive workplace.


I work as a Practitioner with the team at Riders&Elephants with the Emotional Culture Deck tool – to sit down and really understand how people want to feel in the workplace, and promote how engaged, productive and emotionally regulated workplaces –

- have happier staff,

- have more loyal and supportive customers, and

- make more money.


Using vulnerability as a source of strength, rather than weakness can drive your company objectives into personal, team and cultural objectives. Being all on the same page, driving in the same direction is powerful and comes from tools like the ECD and strong engaged teams.


Brene Brown said it best, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”

I am here to argue that these are the three best measures of organisational resilience and success in this COVID-19 world, so embracing soft measures will get you there.


If companies want hard measures like profitability - ‘Manning up’ and hiding your emotions might get you there, but I can tell you from personal experience, it is not going to be an easy, or fun ride.