4 reasons why vulnerability at work is a good thing
Vulnerability (best defined as ‘uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure’) is actually needed, and beneficial, in the workplace. Here’s why:
1) We want to see real
Authenticity is a buzz word at the moment. I think we’re fed up with the fake, photoshopped, curated representations we see of people. We want real. Real is what drives connection. Real is what makes you want to work with someone. At the moment, showing your ‘real’ self is a vulnerable thing to do in the workplace — it is risky, courageous and it is uncertain how that might be reacted to.
2) We need creativity and innovation for success
Conforming and perfectionism does not move our workplace forward. Creativity and Innovation is what moves us forward. It is impossible to put forward something that is ‘creative’ or ‘innovative’ without there being the risk of it being wrong. It is not a maths question with a right answer. It is those that can be with this uncertainty, and don’t have the psychological need to ‘be right’, that are most able to be creative and innovative.
3) We are striving for a more diverse and inclusive workplace
Most people have bought in to the business need for a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Most people haven’t bought in to the fact that they are part of the reason we don’t have a more diverse and inclusive workplace. This isn’t blaming or judging. It’s just that we are part of that system and so cannot help to play a part in that system. And we all have our own unconscious biases that will get in the way in every interaction that we have. It is hard to open up to this possibility if you feel the ‘need to be right’.
4) Leadership is vulnerable
I always use the Peter Drucker quote — ‘Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right thing’. Inherently that means that leadership is ‘more vulnerable’ than leadership as ‘the right thing’ never has a definitive, openly agreed definition. It is subjective, it is uncertain and sometimes risky. If we stay focused on doing things right, might that mean we are unable to lean in to the uncertainty and vulnerability of doing the right thing?