Vulnerability is a word loaded with baggage. It is a word that often connotes weakness, confusion, even “being stuck”. Yet, if we look at vulnerability with more curiosity we can see that it potentially is one of those great pivot point words. If we pivot away from the judging of vulnerability, we can actually shift towards connection, collaboration and opportunity.
Try this on. Think about the last time you made a mistake. Did you feel a little vulnerable admitting the mistake? We all make mistakes, yet, in the workplace, we are often cautious to discuss our errors. We are not intentionally trying to make mistakes, we are just human! We can often feel vulnerable when we make mistakes and fear being judged or dismissed. Yet, as Amy Rees Anderson from Forbes wrote “good employees make mistakes, great leaders allow them to”.
What if we pivot away from that fear and create a culture where vulnerability is seen as an opportunity for collaboration and growth? Think of a recent mistake you made. Next, pivot away from the self judgement where you might have said to yourself…”I should not have made that mistake”. And instead, move towards connection with others. When we walk into our mistakes and openly discuss them, an entirely new culture of “strengths in vulnerability” can emerge. Mistakes become an opportunity to learn, grow and collaborate as a team and reduce costly impacts.
We can shift away from fear of making a mistake towards an organizational culture of trying new things, stretching and growing.
In fast paced workplaces, we need to try on new approaches, grow, refine, and yes, even make mistakes. As leaders, we can model discussing, sharing and working through our errors and vulnerabilities. I find my greatest vulnerabilities are rooted in areas where I am less skillful, experienced, and confident. By admitting these points of vulnerability to my team, I create an opportunity to collaborate with colleagues who are more skillful and experienced in areas of my lesser talents. The collaboration always results in better outcomes.
Next time you feel yourself judging your vulnerability, try a pivot. Step into the vulnerability and turn towards a colleague. See what happens. What shifts for you and your team?