What advice would you give to leaders uncomfortable with vulnerability?

1k views3 Comments

Senior Executive Advisor in Software, 10,001+ employees
People get nervous about vulnerability because they don't understand that being vulnerable doesn't mean you are completely transparent and talk about everything with everyone. You need to cultivate vulnerability with boundaries: You need to know what to share, where to share and at what level to share. That makes you a better leader because it makes you more human and  empathic to your employees, but many people don't understand that. Some think, "I've tried this once and it went really bad, so I'm never going to show my emotions again. I just have to suck it up, because I’m at work." That is wrong.

It's funny, because so many leaders are good parents, so they do have these skills. As a parent or a manager, you are teaching people how to grow. Both roles require you to be empathetic, compassionate and nurturing. But somehow, the minute you put on your professional hat, you tend to forget all of these things. Instead, you just go with whatever some leadership book said 15 years ago. I learned so much about leadership and management from my son. He teaches me a lot every day and I learn to fine tune my approach through my interactions with him, his friends and other people. We need to take a look at that dichotomy again and ask ourselves why we’re trying to be two different people.
Global CIO & CISO in Manufacturing, 201 - 500 employees
If you want to understand people, you have to be open enough to share yourself. And that doesn’t mean sharing everything. There are boundaries, but it becomes important for you to be vulnerable and to empathize. You don’t always have to provide solutions. I always try to find solutions, so I have to hold myself back. I just listen and then I’ll let them know whether I can relate or not.

Whether I'm meeting with a vendor, a colleague, or just talking to my kids, I end up closing almost every conversation by saying, "Let me know how I can help you. I don't know if I can, but let me know when I can help you. I won't know unless you tell me." If you're not taking those things into account and you're not following any of those practices, then you're likely to be very isolated and self-centered.

It doesn’t matter how big your team is, you have to make the time to invest in them whether you have one or 15 direct reports. If someone was a rockstar but suddenly starts plummeting, and you can’t figure out what's going on, then forget about having a half-hour one-on-one with them — make it a two hour one-on-one.
Director of IT in Software, 201 - 500 employees
The culture at work can’t be like an army where you have to follow orders and show no emotion. People have to be able to share when they're stressed or have personal issues, because those personal issues will affect their work. It’s better for my employees to tell me about those things because then we can either chat or I can give them time off for things like counseling. Otherwise, they’ll underperform for weeks and be a burden on the whole team, at which point their manager will put more pressure on them.

People don't want to be seen as vulnerable, whether they're leaders or employees. But we are all human. When you have neighbors over for dinner, you are open to sharing things. But when you work with someone, even though you see them every day, you still think you have to look a certain way and censor your emotions if you’re under stress.

Content you might like

Yes, business is a stakeholder in society and should take a public position62%

No, it is not the role of business to take a position on social challenges32%

Not sure6%



Our team will have the option to work remotely for all or part of the week42%

Our team will return to the office as soon as it is safe to do so32%

Our team will permanently work remotely13%

Our team has already returned to the office10%

Our team never left the office to work remotely1%



1k views1 Comment

CTO in Software, 201 - 500 employees
Without a doubt - Technical Debt! It's a ball and chain that creates an ever increasing drag on any organization, stifles innovation, and prevents transformation.
Read More Comments
41k views131 Upvotes319 Comments