Is Vulnerability a Weakness in the Workplace?

Young creative managers team working with new project in modern office.

If you’ve been told that exhibiting your vulnerable side in the workplace is a sign of weakness, think again — especially if leadership is in your career plan.

Forbes contributor David K. Williams said:

“We all know leaders who are filled with the kind of bravado that takes great pains to hide any hint of misgiving. No matter what happens, they ‘knew it all along.’ At the very essence of their strategy is the fierce belief that showing even the slightest hint of vulnerability would cause their teams to see them as weak. They couldn’t be more mistaken. In reality, vulnerability is a strength. Every leader has vulnerability. The greatest leaders have the self-awareness to recognize this fact. They also recognize that showing their vulnerability is a sign of courage and strength.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkwilliams/2013/07/18/the-best-leaders-are-vulnerable/#6a61613c3c1d

In a previous blog post, I defined FOLS as the “fear of looking stupid.” A lack of vulnerability is a core trait of those who suffer from this anxiety. They try so hard to look and sound like the brilliant expert they want to be, yet they shun opportunities to grow and learn from those around them.

Author and TEDx Houston speaker Brene Brown says, “Vulnerability is the absolute heartbeat of innovation and creativity. There can be zero innovation without vulnerability.”

Showing that you are vulnerable demonstrates that you are not perfect.  We like leaders who are like us in that they have blind spots and yearn for learning opportunities. If you can be honest about yourself with those who look to you for leadership, you will establish yourself as a lifelong learner and thus be a model for those who follow you.