Let’s jump in this week…as many of you know I am big on focusing on the HUMANS who work for and within organizations. I have said it numerous times in my workshops, I am under the belief that the most valuable asset of any organization are the people working within the organization. AND, I see it over and over again in my full day retreats with teams. People want to connect with their peers ALL IN HOPES of reaching results.
Yet, often times, based on a variety of reasons - the fast-paced nature of our work, burnout, ego, drive to achieve ROI, etc. - the humans are seen solely as taskers, providers of productivity, and a means to reaching results. Don’t get me wrong, this too is part of the conversation, but I am a big believer in the concept that most humans need to be connected with first - in hopes of best accomplishing the task, which increases productivity, and ultimately leads to results for the organization.
With that said, quick question for you, have you watched Brené Brown’s Ted Talk about vulnerability? If you have, you’re in good company—it’s one of the most-watched Ted Talks of all time, with over 55 million views and transcriptions in 52 languages.
So, what makes it so compelling? Brown is a researcher who uncovered a common feeling in her work.
People wonder: “Is there something about me, that if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection?” They have a fear of vulnerability, and often equate being vulnerable to living in fear. But over her years of research, Brown found out that the opposite is true. People who live vulnerably show a braveness not shared by many, and because of their willingness to live this way, they lead happier personal and professional lives.
The norm is to hide our vulnerability and not bring our personal lives into work. But it turns out, people are exhausted from putting up shields and protecting their true feelings every time they go to the office.
And why is that? Well, to begin with, some people don’t feel that work is a safe place to bring their whole selves, meaning their imperfect selves. There’s this fear that if we say what we really think, we may be shunned.
This is where our leaders come in. Strong leaders have high emotional intelligence, and part of this equation is a certain amount of comfort with vulnerability. When you see something that isn’t right or that you just can’t agree with in your heart, it’s okay to say why you see a problem and offer suggestions to move the needle toward a path you agree with. It’s okay to show your whole self.
Only when leaders show this vulnerability and their “imperfection” can other people begin to feel that it is okay to let their true selves shine. And this is important because it leads to happier people and a better workplace. This is how we solve problems and grow, and it’s how we build connections.
What does vulnerability look like?
It’s real conversations that break down barriers. It’s giving people room to say what they think and how they believe your organization and your leadership can grow. It’s asking questions and making it clear that you’re willing to listen to real feedback and ideas for growth. It’s saying, “I’m a person who is imperfect. And that’s okay.” As Brene Brown says, it’s knowing and believing that you are enough.
What if instead of the people you work with always pretending that everything is okay and never asking for help, they felt comfortable coming to you when they needed something or when they struggled with a project? What if they weren’t afraid to say, “Hey, I’m struggling with this one thing and I’d like to talk it through?”
The result? Your team feels happier and more capable and free. I know there’s beauty in vulnerability, and it’s up to you to show people how that it’s okay.