Professional Feature: Vulnerability


About The Professional Feature 'Vulnerability'

Not knowing a disturbing language error in a report, a stupid comment during a meeting or the answer to a question. If this happens, we find it embarrassing. Openly expressing the annoying feelings that come with it, is often seen in the workplace as uncertain and weak, while showing vulnerability is very powerful. Vulnerability is a condition for creativity, innovation, change and success.

Sign of weakness?

Many professionals have the idea that they need to know everything and not show their own uncertainty. Showing feelings is a sign of weakness and those who are weak don't survive in the workplace. When we were still living in caves and filling our days fighting mammoths and gathering food, it was not smart to be vulnerable; you could be eaten immediately. Even though we no longer roam the steppes today, those ancient urge to survive are still in our brain. But be real: it's very human to be afraid of failure, that your work will not be appreciated or that you will be ridiculed or rejected. You can't always know everything, be sure of yourself or do every (new) task effortlessly.

Yet we want the outside world to make them believe. All too often we suppress unpleasant feelings and that can cause an inner struggle. You don't say what you really think or feel and you come up with excuses: you blame someone else, you pull back in your shell or make up an excuse. But the strange thing is: most people find it enormously powerful if someone else is vulnerable. We think it's great when another guts show. But to show vulnerability yourself, that is a completely different story. Most people don't dare because there is shame comes to mind. And shame is a taboo. Why actually? Everyone is ashamed. By being vulnerable, you show that you are not afraid. Vulnerability makes it easier to:

solve complex problems deal with change come up with creative ideas or products


We use different masks and protection tactics to avoid having to show our vulnerability. One is perfectionism. Perfectionism is the belief that if you do things perfectly you minimize or prevent the pain of reproach and shame. We think that perfectionism protects us from criticism and pain, but it keeps you from showing your true self. Perfectionism is aimed at the approval and appreciation of others. As a perfectionist you strive for an unattainable goal, because you've no influence whatsoever on how others see you. No matter how much time and energy you put into it. It is a protection mechanism that keeps you from growing.

All the more confidence you have, the easier it's to shake off your perfectionism and be open to others. After all, you know what you are worth. And the less easy you are to hurt. How can you let perfectionism go a little further?

- Investigate your thoughts: What thoughts do you've that make it difficult for you to be vulnerable? What's wrong with seeing people do something wrong? What is wrong with someone noticing that you are not made of stone?
- Investigate your fear: What is the worst thing that can happen to you if you are vulnerable?
- Accept the presence of this fear: By accepting this fear you create peace and space for seeing new possibilities.
- State your desire: What would you like to do?
- Take the challenge!: Show your vulnerable side and start doing what you would like to do.

Vulnerable leader

As a manager it's also very good to show your vulnerability. A leader who dares to state openly what he is up to and that he also has shortcomings and makes mistakes, shows his human side and sends a signal to his employees that it's not bad at times to be uncertain or somewhere in something to get stuck. A manager who leads in such a way creates a safe and pleasant working atmosphere and will be able to make more use of the potential of his employees. A safe and pleasant workplace ensures that you are involved and responsible employees, because they know that they can and may be themselves. They dare to show their struggles and don't put them away. Employee engagement is one of the best predictors of organizational performance. Companies that view vulnerability not as weakness but as strength are much more innovative than those where you can't be vulnerable. Innovation and innovation are not possible if risks are never taken.

How can you develop more vulnerability as a manager?

As a leader you've to feel responsible to discover and develop the potential in your employees. The most important insight is to understand that vulnerability is not a weakness, but a force. If you want to create a culture of involvement in your organization, you must ensure that you demonstrate the behavior that you expect from your employees: practice what you preach. That gives clarity and clarity; people know what they have for you. There is a good chance that your employees will also be open. This provides room to understand each other, thereby increasing effectiveness. Specifically this means:

- Be honest and dare to show yourself - and with it your shortcomings.
- The best leaders know what they don't know and are sincere about it.
- Show that the relationship with your employees is important to you. This means that you give them attention and, for example, when an employee makes a mistake, you don't immediately burn it down. Gossip, reproach, backbiting and abuse of power don't give you room.
- Provide honest, constructive and involved feedback. Express your appreciation when an employee leaves his comfort zone. Seeing and being appreciated is important to every employee and encourages growth. If someone gets the right rating, he is more open to improving his weaker points.

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