As a professional woman for over 30 years, I built a thick layer of protection or armor, which I carried around for years! It wasn't until recently--around the last eight years to ten years in the workplace--that I began to put it down.
In this article, we discuss leadership quality #17: How vulnerability today can help you deepen intimacy, relationships, and authenticity.
When I went into the workplace as a young 22-year-old, I started working in technology, and there weren't many female leader role models to emulate. I'm grateful for the role models I found, including my managers, and others whose leadership qualites I appreciated.
Early on in my career, I learned this:
A leader is not only someone who has a title, but someone who leads in life.
Using this definition, we are all leaders in lfe. It turns out that sometimes we lead a team and our responsibilities are associated with a leadership title.
As that young, impressionable professional, recent college graduate starting a new career, I learned quickly that there was a certain expectation as to how I needed to behave and show up to the workplace professionally.
I learned in those early years that I needed to show up to behaving professionally, keeping my emotions in check, treating everybody respectfully, which is a really good thing.
I also noticed that many of the leaders I encountered weren't bringing a lot of vulnerability or transparency or showed what was going on with them. That was then, this is now.
In today's environment, vulnerability is one of the leadership qualities that will get us to build deeper connections with the people we are surrounded by, including our teams.
What's the value of showing up with vulnerability as a leader?
Vulnerability fosters intimacy.
In our relationships, when we are vulnerable and truly share how we feel about a situation, we get closer to our partner. However, for us to be vulnerable, it requires that we feel safe to be open and transparent--knowing that the person we are being vulnerable with has our best interest, has our back, is trustworthy, and is willing to listen, ideally without judgment, but rather with curiosity.
On the flip side, when we don't feel safe and suspect that the other party has a hidden agenda or is out to get us, we don't trust them, we hold back information, how we truly feel about a situation, show up with a protective armor, and in fear of getting hurt.
As a leader, a signficant aspect of our role is to create a safe environment where the people in our lives can feel save, be vulnerable, and peform at their best.
For you, consider:
How can you be more professionally intimate with your team, know them better?
How can you let them know that you care for them, and have their backs?
By bringing your vulnerability, being open, honest, and showing true care while listening and supporting them, that's a pathway to creating that safe space.
Despite the size of your team, you have ample opporutnities to be vulnerable with them and develop more professional intimacy, trust, and support.
For example, your team most likely has members who are experts in their specific areas. As the leader, you may not have the depth of knowledge they have. Your job is to share the compelling vision for the team and empower the team by providing resources and removing obstacles that may prevent them for high performane or achieving success in their roles.
Your vulnerability shows when you lean on them to make decisions that require their input and expertise, rather than pretending or believing that you must have all the answers.
Vulnerability is accepting that you don't have all the answers.
It's also accepting that there's a part of you that doesn't know what to do next. That's part of the beauty of embracing the quality of vulnerability.
As a vulnerable leader, you're going to deepen your connection, empathy, and compassion for others' plight, building deeper relationships and empathy with those you interact with.
The focus on relationships as you explore your vulnearbility will support you to building your network of allies at work, including mentors, sponsors, which are required for us to have the influence and impact we want to have within our roles.
Vulnerability and authenticity go hand in hand
The more vulnerable you are with yourself, the more authentic you become, and the more real you become to the people with whom you interact--those in your centers of influence or your sphere of care. That's the value of vulnerability.
On a scale of one to 10, one being zero vulnerability, How would you rate yourself when it comes to being vulnerable in your relationships? (give yourself a rating for work and personal)
In my case, in my career, I would say that my vulnerability rating would be about an eight. It's not unusual for me to share stories about my place of origen, the struggles that I've endured throughout a 30 year career, including the highs and lows of my most recent role as a leadership, coach, career strategists, transformational speaker, and author.
I believe that that has been something that I've embraced because I've learned and experienced that when I share my stories authentically with my audiences, the audience and I connect on a much deeper level. And that, to me, is priceless because once we are open and connected, then we're both ready to listen and ready to absorb what I'm going to share with them during my training.
So I'm going to invite you to explore where you are with your vulnerability and to see if there's room for improvement. If you are already on your path to becoming more vulnerable and authentic, I want to commend you.
If you haven't thought about it and haven't questioned how vulnerable you are showing up to your relationships personally and professionally, and how it may be impacting the quality of your relationships, then I invite you to ponder this and perhaps take one small step to be a bit more open and to share more of who you are with others you trust.
The end-result is that your relationships will be more enjoyable and more meaningful.
Easier said than done? If you need support, you can reach us at www.callwithginny.com to set up a complimentary strategy session and explore how our programs can help you or your leaders gain these skills and get out of survival mode and into thriving mode. Your company and your success depend on it.
Live with purpose, live with joy!
Coach Ginny 💕
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Dr. Ginny A. Baro is an award-winning transformational speaker & leadership coach, career strategist, and #1 best-selling author of Healing Leadership and Fearless Women at Work. Ginny specializes in partnering with organizations and ERGs to develop leadership dream teams. And she supports individuals navigating a corporate hierarchy or transitioning into an entirely new phase of their career. She has successfully facilitated live and virtual leadership training and coaching programs for individuals and Fortune 500 companies with over 140,000 employees, and delivered keynotes impacting global audiences larger than 7,000. To learn more, visit ExecutiveBound.
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