When we think of vulnerability we think of being exposed, criticised or attacked for our flaws and mistakes. Vulnerability is often associated with the idea we’ll be susceptible to getting hurt. And we would never expect vulnerability to be encouraged or even allowed in the workplace.
But it turns out, business and vulnerability go hand in hand.
Vulnerability belongs in the workplace. It not only belongs, but it builds a more successful company that’s rooted in a culture of respect and trust. In fact, it tends to lead to higher engagement and productivity at all levels — ultimately leading to better business results.
When it comes to driving a culture that supports well-being, our research shows that 16 percent of what matters most to employees is a trustworthy organization.
For many of us, it’s hard to be open with our feelings and emotions. We shut off emotions because we’re afraid of what people may think of us — that we’re weak. It takes courageous leaders like changemakers to embrace vulnerability to create a productive, supportive culture.
3 benefits from changemakers embracing vulnerability in the workplace:
1. A culture of trust
Trust plays a significant role in vulnerability. In order to be vulnerable, we need to feel trust. Growth in relationships requires two people to open up and share with each other all of who they are, not just the good. And this requires trust. So how is this done in the workplace?
Trust is a two-way street. Employees need to know they won’t be punished if they take care of important personal priorities at work and that the organization has their best interests in mind. And employers need to know their staff won’t take advantage of flexible well-being policies. A supportive and safe work environment is directly linked to respect and loyalty between peers and employees to the company. Break down barriers and be vulnerable. It’ll open you up to build beautiful and meaningful relationships — in and outside of work.
Vulnerability drives innovation in the workplace. According to Brené Brown, an expert on vulnerability and research professor at the University of Houston, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” The best ideas are cultivated in an open, collaborative and meaningful exchange. Every time a new idea is brought to the table, vulnerability is present.
Create a workplace environment where vulnerability is not only accepted but also encouraged and supported. People will have the courage and confidence to think creatively, express new ideas and explore curiosities.
Teamwork is built on a foundation of trust and the ability to be vulnerable with others. If you can’t be open or feel safe in a room with your coworkers, how do you expect any work to get done? The most effective and successful teams are ones who don’t punish team members for speaking up, taking risks or disagreeing. Disagreements are going to happen. In fact, they should be encouraged. But in order for a disagreement to be productive, open, honest and respectful, communication is key.
As a changemaker, you can set expectations for your team by letting team members know it’s OK to speak plainly and provide feedback. Without authentic, vulnerable communication, you can’t foster teamwork.
When you allow vulnerability and remove uncertainty in the workplace, you can create a more dynamic and sustainable culture of trust, drive innovation and teamwork. As a result, you’ll see security, respect and more engaged employees which leads to better business results.