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How The Courage To Be “Vulnerable” Can Set Your Leadership Apart

“A leader, first and foremost, is human. Only when we have the strength to show our vulnerability can we truly lead.”

Simon Sinek

What do we think about when we see influential and fearless leaders?

A leader is someone who is in a position of strength, someone who is unbreakable and can handle any situation. Their ability to radiate exemplary quality attracts people and stirs their emotions in a way few can mirror. They tackle challenges head-on, all while keeping a stoic face because leaders never crumble. Never.


Well… no.

It’s not easy to say that a leader is someone who fearlessly paves the way with a brave heart and mind. That they never falter. Many leaders wish it were that easy too. Interestingly, behind the strategic eyes and charismatic smile lies only a human called a leader. 

So, what’s damaging about that afore-narrative?

Humans Are Vulnerable, And So Are Leaders

Just like when we see a television or movie character, we forget that they have a backstory until it’s shown to us. It’s easy to see the young CEO as someone so far from our reality that they’re almost not human. 

But we need to remember that they were a kid, too. They went to school, played games, and scraped their knee just like us. This CEO has a family, a life, and challenges outside our perception. And sometimes, we never see that because they’re taught that’s how you lead.

Lead With Compassion

There’s one trait every effective leader must have—compassion. A kind word and genuine praise can foster a sense of pride and confidence in your team members. 

Nobody can compartmentalize their emotions and traumas —remembering that being a high performer or always appearing “okay” doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is, in fact, okay.

A leader’s ability to be compassionate and understand their team members starts with being vulnerable themselves. For leaders to be open about their struggles sets the precedent that it’s okay for everyone not to be okay.

When we don’t allow someone to show their vulnerability, we’re not allowing them to be human. So, we put this extra weight on their shoulders to always be strong. Always have the answers. And always know what to do.

It’s not healthy.

It’s okay to make mistakes, and what’s important is that we learn from them.

Allow Yourself To Be Vulnerable

To effectively lead a team, allow yourself to be vulnerable. Show your team that you’re human and that it’s okay not to have all the answers.

You’re building trust when you allow yourself to be vulnerable in front of your team. You’re showing your team members they can come to you with their struggles and that you’re not just some untouchable authority figure.

You’re approachable. And you care.

Whether you are a member or team leader, the ability to be vulnerable is one of the most challenging but essential lessons one can learn. It allows for connection, trust, and, ultimately, a more productive team.

Vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness. And it’s okay not to be okay. Reach out for help when needed, and know that you can always come back to your team later.

“Vulnerability sounds like Truth and feels like Courage. Truth and Courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”

Brené Brown

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