Leaders are always expected to be Type A, show aggression and be in control. Several TV shows, books and movies that have portrayed the quintessential tycoon have reinforced this alpha male/female image of a leader in our minds. This is changing. Today, in a world that is vying for scarce talent, employees gravitate towards companies driven by a purpose and leaders who are grounded, and unafraid to show their vulnerabilities and talk openly about their failures. Business speeches and motivational talks are more appreciated when they are personal and talking about setbacks and painful journeys. That’s what makes leaders relatable and inspiring. It’s the humility, and the authenticity which comes with the comfort of showing one’s vulnerable side.
Vulnerability is the ultimate courage: Many misunderstand vulnerability to be a sign of weakness, a sign that others will take you for a ride, a sign that you are not capable of being an aggressive outcome-driven leader. It’s exactly the opposite. It takes enormous courage to show your flaws, your insecurities and courage is the most important trait that builds trust and respect for a leader.
Culture of empathy: We all spend most of our time at our workplaces. We want to be surrounded by people who are authentic, and in a space where it is ok to not posture and alright to let our guard down. A place where vulnerability is looked at as a strength breeds a culture of compassion. It is ok to be flawed and to be ‘human’. This promotes candour. Imagine if you had to posture and pose for eight hours a day. It is exhausting and drains your energy. Vulnerable leaders bring out positive and productive bests in their teams.
Culture of creativity and innovation: Innovation takes place when people are willing to step out of their comfort zones, to take risks and, when they are not afraid to fail. They don’t feel judged and la-belled. They know they will not be laughed at or looked down upon. They feel like they are in a psychological safe zone and feel comfortable discussing their failures. When the leader sets the example by doing exactly this, the team follows and this leads to creativity and the most innovative outcomes.
Excerpted from The Dolphin And The Shark by Namita Thapar, published by Penguin Business.
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