Berger Leadership Blog

Apr 15, 2022

Time to Get Real

As leaders, we tend to get caught up in displaying our best, most perfect selves to our employees for fear of becoming too unguarded or appearing unqualified. Because of this, we tend to hide behind a mask of perfection. But why not show that vulnerability to others, and better yet, embrace it?

In a recent article in his blog “How We Lead,” Ken Blanchard highlighted a recent discussion with retired president of Southwest Airlines Colleen Barrett, who gave him a helpful lesson on vulnerability in leadership. Her most quotable line in their discussion reads:

“People admire your strengths, but they respect your honesty regarding your vulnerability.”

According to Barrett, too many leaders are “closed books” when it comes to relating to their teams. This practice is due to fear of showing themselves as imperfect for those who are meant to look up to them. However, through expressing vulnerability and opening up to your team, you are able to let your team understand you as a person first, leader second. In addition, you are able to develop a level of trust with your team, showing off your imperfections in the process.

Blanchard gives two tips to take home in order to bring your truest self into the workplace, including:

  • Focus mostly on others, not yourself to build trust in relationships with your employees rather than focusing on your own agenda; and
  • Own up to your mistakes to prove that you, too, have room for improvement and are not invincible.

By taking off the mask, those you lead will see you for who you really are—a confident leader who cares and is comfortable in their own skin. A confident leader who, among all things, is human.

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