Scared of spiders? Terrified of the dark? Horrified by clowns?
Well, unfortunately I can’t help you with those.
I suppose though if I had advice for those people I’d say… hold a spider, hang out in a cave, or perhaps become a clown yourself.
Seriously, I am far from the best person to help with these fears.
I am petrified of frogs.
I can however help with fears around the topic of vulnerable leadership, which we discussed a few blogs ago and had some fantastic discussions about as a result.
The golden question of course is… why would you be fearful of vulnerable leadership?
Now, if you are not a vulnerable leader at all and always look to maintain a reputation as a stoic figure, then it will be much more difficult to view and display vulnerability as a muscle rather than a lack of.
Therefore starting to show vulnerability could be something to be fearful of. This is not just the case though for people who actively decide to never show vulnerability, it can also be the case for those that already do, but are now trying to add to their repertoire.
Below I have listed some of the reasons why you could be fearful to show vulnerability, and how you can overcome them to ultimately upgrade your leadership style and modernise your approach even further!
I Won’t Be Viewed As A Leader
If you have this fear, then I would suggest that you need to take some time to figure out what your perception of a leader truly is.
Ask yourself… what are the attributes of a great leader?
If the first words you write down are ones such as power and strength, it is clear to see why you think that any behaviour that does not exhibit these two things therefore makes you the complete opposite of a good leader.
However, if some of those first few words you jot down include honestly, openness, communication then it is more likely that you will be less fearful of being vulnerable with people.
Since the turn of the millennium, the mould of a leader has reshaped dramatically away from one of autocracy to one which is people-focused.
Powerful has transitioned to empowering, and vulnerability is an important element of connecting with those who are going to be key in succeeding at both your personal and team goals.
I Could Get Emotional
Being vulnerable can be uncomfortable, especially in a location where you and the people around you are trying to achieve their tasks and goals.
So, for you to get emotional could be really inappropriate right? Whether that be extremely angry or just upset.
There seems to be a correlation that exists between emotion and unprofessionalism. The more emotion you display, the less professional you appear.
That’s super healthy! (Read with your finest sarcasm.)
It is important to remember that people prefer to work in a place which contains positive energy. However, in order to maintain positivity over a long period of time, we have to deal with the stresses that affect us, which can be both personal and work related.
Otherwise, things begin to bubble with increasing intensity beneath a positive surface until they blow up into the atmosphere.
If your workplace is one that encourages people to be authentic, then sharing emotions should not be uncommon. They should be treated with understanding, ensuring that this positive atmosphere is genuine and repeatedly fuelled by the strength of the bonds that form it.
My Personality May Seem Inconsistent
“But as a leader, I have never tried to show any vulnerability, therefore if I start now, am I not just going to confuse my team?”
Perhaps you will… but isn’t it better than being washed up by the tides of time.
The best way to avoid confusing people who are familiar with your leadership approach is not to go suddenly extreme.
As we mentioned previously, vulnerable leadership is not about telling people every intimate detail of your life and letting it all hang out (horrible expression, my bad).
Simplified, it is about being authentic around people. No disguises.
So if you sound like the example I gave right at the start of this point, then congratulations! You have had one of the most important moments of realisation in your journey as a leader. And if you are worried about appearing inconsistent and not in keeping with your usual, potentially outdated style, then why not be vulnerable about trying to be vulnerable with people?
Be open with people about this change you want to make and allow them to play a crucial part in this with you.
What a wonderful way to build meaningful connections.
The Lines Between My Home and Work Life Will Blur
To clarify, these two things should be separate.
Repeatedly taking your work home with you every single day is a recipe for something unpalatable and if you live with others, it is not a meal for one.
This is why some people, in a bid to desperately keep things separated, dilute down their personalities and become their ‘work self’.
Almost sounds like some kind of reverse superhero.
Instead of donning a mask and cape and going out to make a positive impact on the world around you, you are clipping back your character and individuality in an attempt to not combine your two realms.
The ‘work self’ does not discuss anything personal at the office and does not share too many feelings. Because that then leads to each realm becoming contaminated by the other until there is nothing separating the two.
I always think though… is this not completely exhausting?
Regulating yourself every minute of your working day so that you do not feel overexposed?
Truth is though, you can let people in at work and also maintain a clear difference between work and home life. You can also let people in without them getting fully immersed in your personal life.
Funnily enough, those people at work also have lives beyond their desks. And by being real with them, you may build connections that you wouldn’t mind breaking down your harsh barriers for!
I’ve always been told that the best way to face your fears is to take the plunge and just do them.
My advice would be to revisit our previous blog Why Vulnerability Is One Of Your Greatest Strengths As A Leader to understand the different traits of a successful leader and think about situations where you could introduce them. This will give you, in essence, an action plan to how you can begin to transform your style for the better.
Before you go, check you’ve retained the key points in this blog by watching our summary video below…
Alex & The Excel Team
P.S. If you would like to discuss any of your learning & development challenges for 2021, call us on +44(0) 1628488 854.
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