Looks Can be Deceiving

I have a confession to make. Looking back over recent blogs you could be forgiven for thinking ‘this guy has got it all together.’ Truth to tell, things have been pretty challenging of late. I really don’t feel like that guy who has it all sorted out. As I write this our family is getting ready for my grandson to go through a major operation at 7 months old. It certainly makes me think about the fragility of things. It has also made me wonder how many others are leading with a limp. As the saying goes, looks can be deceiving.

In the current climate, this approach of leaders being unassailable is not helping those they lead believe they understand anything about them. Appropriate vulnerability would go a long way in showing those you lead that you too are a human being with real struggles. This would build a stronger relational bridge and increase trust – a critical key in building effective teams.

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it\’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it\’s our greatest measure of courage.” Brené Brown

How often do you equate vulnerability with courage? Often as leaders you will feel the pressure to have all the answers. This produces enormous amounts of stress particularly in the environment we now work. As leaders you must embrace this concept as generations coming through into the workplace need us to be authentic. So, what does that look like?

When vulnerability is a key to leadership success

What you model as a leader gives permission for others on the team to do the same. Those you lead take their cues on what is acceptable from the one who sets the culture – the leader.

Here are three ways where vulnerability is key to a better result:

  • Dropping the Ball – what do you do when you make a mistake? Do you look to blame others? Do you rationalise what is happening? What about owning the mistake? It takes a certain amount of vulnerability to do it and yet counter-intuitively those you lead take note, and it builds more trust. In recent days we have seen that denial by a national leader has produced exactly the opposite. As Patrick Lencioni has said:

“As leader you set the tone for the whole team to succeed by being open about these things. It then gives permission for the whole team to be open about their mistakes and weaknesses with the goal of creating a trust that allows the team to reach their potential.”

  • Conflict – for teams to be able to debate passionately about the issues requires trust and trust requires the leader to set the tone on vulnerability. The leader has to have skin in the game. If those you lead get a whiff of you holding back it will set the environment for the whole discussion. Model what you want to see.

  • Challenging Circumstances – what’s your 10-year plan, someone asked me the other day. 10 years! You must be crazy I am certain enough to have a stab at 12 months, possibly 3 years, but 10? Impossible. In just 2 years, during the pandemic, we have seen the take up of digital assets we were expecting over a decade. Change is rapid and here to stay. Being vulnerable about this reality will result in a better conversation in your team about how to move forward. Agility and flexibility will become the norm. As leader you need to be comfortable dealing with uncertainty.

“The reason agility is so important is that a crisis means there are no clear answers and no immediate end in sight. Which is exactly why it’s called a crisis, not a problem.” Carey Nieuwhof

These things are not simple. If you feel a little overwhelmed welcome to the club. Having a coach is one sure way of helping you get clarity. I am happy to help, from one person who is still learning to another. Why not book in here?

Stay safe.

Picture of Mark Billage

Mark Billage

Mark’s passion is to help realise individuals’ potential, be they leaders or team members, through empowering organisational culture. He has spent 7 years leading an organisation based in the non profit sector. In that time, he focused on creating a culture that enabled and empowered individuals, with the aim of seeing a high performing team better able to achieve the organisation’s mission.

Our Vision

To train and equip leaders to transform culture, build successful teams and organisations where everyone is seen, heard and valued for their unique contribution.

Scroll to Top