Opening the Door: Vulnerability, Transparency, and Leadership


We’ve all heard the old saying—“Do as I say, not as I do!”  However, as you’ve no doubt guessed or learned on your own, this is not an effective leadership style.  If anything, it can be actively damaging to your workplace environment and culture.  Why would your team collaborate openly and with intention when the leadership is doing the opposite?  If you want a company where employees feel safe to be open and to keep everything transparent in their day-to-day business, it must start with you.

Vulnerability is Approachability

It can feel counterintuitive, at first.  We have an image of leaders as stoic figures looking down on the company from above.  However, by making yourself vulnerable, you’re also making yourself more approachable.  Sometimes, the image of the unshakeable boss can cause your employees a great deal of anxiety at the mere thought of interacting with you.  While fear can be used as a leadership tool, there are far more effective methods that should be tried first.  Admiration will go much further in building bonds with your team than worry, anxiety, or fear will.

Own Up to Mistakes

Again, it can be difficult to move away from the idea of the business leader as someone who stands above the rest of the corporation.  But we’re all human, from the CEO down to the newest hire in the mailroom.  This means that we all make mistakes.  As a leader, all eyes are on you, and that kind of surveillance can make you hesitant to own up to any missteps you may have taken along the way.  You might worry that your team will lose respect for you if you admit a mistake.  However, studies have shown that employees are likely to respect leaders more when they take ownership of their own miscalculations.

Ears Open, Mouths Closed

One of the most common complaints of the modern day employee is that they feel they aren’t heard in their workplace.  They worry that their voices aren’t heard, and as a result their work often begins to suffer as morale drops.  This can be a side effect of encouraging too much competition within your workplace—instead of raising spirits, your team feels like they’ve been trampled and ignored.  In order to build a collaborative work environment, it comes down to you making yourself vulnerable and transparent before all else.  By making yourself vulnerable, you become approachable, and when you’re approachable employees will come to you with their concerns and ideas.  Above all else, a transparent and vulnerable leader takes the time to listen.

Making ourselves vulnerable and transparent to our employees often feels very uncomfortable at first.  It goes against a lot of what we’ve learned and contradicts the image many of us hold of a ‘strong leader.’  Like any new skill, it takes deliberation and intention—but soon enough, it becomes a habit.  Not sure where to begin with opening yourself up more to your team?  Contact Leadership Delta today.  Our door is always open.