Since we’re spending the month of March focusing on the idea of vulnerability, we wanted to take some time today to explore the idea of vulnerability in the workplace—specifically, as leaders and business owners. As bosses, vulnerability is something we typically try to avoid—and understandably so. We often associate vulnerability with weakness or heightened emotions, neither of which are great for workplace productivity. But this month, we’re flipping the idea of vulnerability on its head and associating it, instead, with strength. To be vulnerable, after all, takes a great deal of strength—and, as leaders in the workplace, it can provide a number of benefits. We’ve broken down the top three benefits of vulnerability as a leader in the workplace below. So sit back, pour yourself a glass of Cab and start dusting off that World’s Coolest Boss mug—you’re about to be everyone’s new favorite leader:
When we’re vulnerable in the workplace, we’re open with others and willing to share our unfiltered ideas. Vulnerability in the workplace doesn’t so much look like an open vent-session over past breakups; it looks like an open brainstorm session where we throw out tons of wild ideas and, as a result, end up with some seriously creative ones we wouldn’t otherwise have stumbled upon in a more filtered environment. As a boss, you can encourage creativity and sharing in meetings by leading by example. Don’t overthink your ideas or filter every single thing that comes to your mind. Instead, practice brainstorming out loud. Likewise, encourage an open forum where judging isn’t on the table. Allow people to say whatever comes to their minds. You can filter out the best (and worst) ideas later—the key is to start with a space where everything gets put on the table in order to find the most creative ideas.
Employees tend to look at even the best (read coolest) of bosses as intimidating and sometimes mysterious creatures. As leaders, we often play into this notion by being guarded and unemotional when communicating with our team—as we feel that’s the most professional way to go about things. But, if we’re open with our emotions when, say, delivering bad news during a monthly meeting, we become much more relatable to our employees. Ultimately, this helps to foster a workplace of transparency and honesty. This doesn’t mean you have to lay your every card on the table and break into tears when telling your team you lost that big client you were hoping to book—but it does mean you can open yourself up a bit and allow your employees to see how you’re actually feeling about certain business hits and losses. Your team doesn’t need “a rock” (as we so often tell ourselves); your team needs a living, breathing, emotional human they can relate to and, as a result, want to do their best work for.
When we’re vulnerable and transparent with our team, we encourage them to open up to us. And, when employees open up to each other, a whole new level of bonding occurs. We love the idea of monthly coffee sessions where you take your team out to simply chat and open up. By letting down some of the emotional guards we’ve been taught to hold tight to in the workplace, we’re opening the door wide open for strengthened bonds and increased teamwork.
Overall, while opening up to our coworkers isn’t always great in certain industries and businesses, as wedding and event planners, we’d argue that it’s almost necessary. Our industry, after all, isn’t like a ton of others. We work late and long hours, deal with clients during the most emotionally heightened states of their lives, and play a number of roles all at once (designers, engineers, carpenters, bookkeepers, therapists). And our team is right there by our side through all of it. In short, our team is pretty much like a second family to us—and we owe it to them to foster an open and honest workplace where vulnerability isn’t seen as a weakness but, rather, a strength.