Written by Paula Mulford
Letting your guard down basically boils down to one thing… being appropriately vulnerable in your communication, which in turn promotes a culture of trust. This diagram is a simple visual showing a different way to achieve effective management and stronger leadership.
Ironically, most leaders choose not to share aspects of their lives that translate into humanizing themselves. As a result, they miss the opportunity to build relationships which lead to higher engagement and productivity. Simply put, people work much harder for leaders they like, know and trust.
Patrick Lencioni answers the question of “Why is it so difficult for leaders to be vulnerable?” in his bestselling book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable. He says, “Achieving vulnerability-based trust is difficult because, in the course of career advancement and education, most successful people learn to be competitive with their peers, and protective of their reputations. It is a challenge for them to turn those instincts off for the good of a team, but that is exactly what is required.”
The three bottom-line outcomes resulting from communicating in an appropriately vulnerable way are:
- Stronger Relationships
- More Effective Management
Trust is the bedrock for getting things done. Jack Welch says that people will not do their best without it. And, management guru, Warren Bennis, calls it the major leadership challenge of today and tomorrow.
People are curious about their leader’s lives. Unless people know who you are and what makes you tick, they will not fully trust you. They also want their leaders to be interested in them, so ask questions to discover who they are as well. Write down what you learn so you can meaningfully relate something of importance to them in future interactions.
Here are four easy ways to be appropriately vulnerable, inviting people to get to know you thus building stronger relationships:
- Share your interests, hobbies, passions and a few details about your family. This information makes you multi-dimensional and can build common ground.
- People get a big kick out of knowing your pet peeves. People laugh about pet peeves and laughing creates openness.
- Give others credit. Specifically; communicate to people how you value and appreciate them. Articulate positive thoughts about their behaviors and results of their hard work. Doing this demonstrates that you notice and are aware of what they are doing right. Appreciation is the gas in people’s tanks.
- Seize the opportunity to build your credibility by admitting mistakes when you make them, particularly when they are public knowledge. Credibility goes up when someone can step up to the plate and say, “I screwed up and let me tell you what I learned. Thanks for your patience.”
When people trust you, they will perceive you as having integrity, being reliable, fair, caring, open, competent and loyal.