Human connectedness, a fundamental need for connection with others. The Human Connectedness Group states: “Our interactions and relationships with other people form a network that supports us, makes our lives meaningful, and ultimately enables us to survive.”1 As a leader, this is the attribute that engages people and draws them to you. This requires embracing vulnerability in your interactions with their people.
When I broach vulnerability as a leadership competency to embrace I often receive push-back initially. I hear: “I don’t do vulnerability,” “It’s not my thing,” and “I’m not good at it so I don’t do it.” The same clients, given a safe, structured environment to explore their vulnerability, come away saying that it was one of the best parts of their experience.
I believe we hold a fear of being judged if we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. The reality is,
“Connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”— Brené Brown, Professor of social work at the University of Houston2
This is part 2 of the 3-part series on Being Vulnerable by Diana Gabriel, Certified Strengths Strategy Coach.As a leader who seeks feedback, help, or advice you have an opportunity to practice genuine authenticity and vulnerability. Click To Tweet
Does the positive experience of being vulnerable really outweigh the negative? Vulnerability is being recognized as a necessary leadership competency.
When you can admit your mistakes and demonstrate that you are learning from them, the negative aspects of vulnerability are most often are diminished. Your people perceive this action as taking responsibility, being accountable, and transparent. These admirable traits display relational skills and engender trust.
Through this your people experience the human side of you as their leader, you become relatable. This dispenses with traditional pretenses of being perfect, better, or more important than others, which breeds doubt and distrust.
Human connectedness is the attribute that engages people and draws them to you. Admitting to and apologizing for being wrong prompts a relational restoration that builds trust. Honesty and authenticity signify a leader who cares about relationships and the strength that they afford. Deeper relationships draw out the best in people, leading to enhanced attitudes, productivity, and loyalty.
As Emma Seppälä points out in What Bosses Gain by Being Vulnerable, people can relate to what their leader is feeling, and this influences their response. When your people see you as genuine and willingly vulnerable they feel good about it and respond favorably with admiration, respect, and trust. Pretenses of superiority or infallibility, which are old-school vulnerability missteps, often work against you damaging relationships and unity.
Being a leader who is willing to be open and vulnerable shows courage. You prioritize team unity and effectiveness above personal image, choosing to be authentic for the greater good. This is the image of a leader receiving inner strength from their belief in themselves rather than being dependent on the opinions of others. People are open to being influenced by a leader with this kind of character and are often inspired to be more like them. As Dr. Brené Brown writes in Daring Greatly, “What we know matters but who we are matters more.”
As a leader who seeks feedback, help, or advice you have an opportunity to practice genuine authenticity and vulnerability. You demonstrate that you want to learn and be the best you can be by expressing need. Who doesn’t want to follow someone like that? Your drive for improvement is contagious and everyone wants in on that.
What is your experience with leaders who have shown genuine authenticity and vulnerability? When have you, as a leader, demonstrated genuine authenticity and vulnerability? Has it been a positive experience? I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me here and on LinkedIn.
1 “Mission.” Mission, Human Connectedness Group, web.media.mit.edu/~stefan/hc/mission/.
2 Brown, Brené (2010). The gifts of imperfection: let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are. Hazeldon.