Becky McKinlay on why being vulnerable in the workplace takes courage – especially for business leaders.
Adaptability, resourcefulness, EQ, resilience – all characteristics that business press, talent managers and recruiters talk about as essential qualities for leaders, future leaders and to create an effective workplace.
The value of ‘bringing your whole self to work’ has been apparent for some time. Vagaries of what that means aside, in creative and communications environments particularly it feels too obvious to need stating. To appeal to audiences, we need to be the audience – diverse, inclusive, contradictory, conflicted, charming, introverted, extroverted – everything that makes up the power and force of personality types.
For too long vulnerability has had negative connotations in the workplace. A vulnerable person was construed as a weak one, subject to failure, not resilient enough. And yet in personal lives, showing a certain vulnerability allows for relationships to build, trust to be created and connections developed that stand the test of time.
And so it’s true in business. In her book Daring Greatly, Brene Brown presents the case for vulnerability better than I can do it justice, but in essence, a business leader who acknowledges, ‘I don’t know’ or ‘you may know better’ is not displaying weakness, they’re opening the door to creating better collaboration to find solutions.
Daring to be yourself and bringing your whole self to work means we need to change the focus, and the professional success benchmark, from the pursuit of perfectionism to an ongoing focus on being the best version of yourself, in spite of your flaws. An ongoing path towards excellence helps unlock the door to ongoing learning, development and continual improvement. Those focussed on perfectionism may never see their end goal realised and will keep their individuality and authenticity suppressed along the way.
A leader who leaves their ego at the door displays positive vulnerability. Stepping away, letting others drive conversations, encouraging qualified, autonomous risk taking allows workforces to feel more involved, be more connected and play a greater part in their company’s vision.
And that’s our mission for 2020 – ensuring TVC is a business that embraces authenticity and the ‘whole self’ approach to work. Being a vulnerable leader takes courage, as does bringing your whole self to work. TVC is an exceptional team of individuals with side-hustles aplenty – filmmaking, make up artistry, reading helpers, sports coaches. As a business, we are limiting ourselves if we don’t encourage these whole selves to work and benefit our clients as a result.
It will and does take courage – something that has never been a problem for TVCers. We’ll be harnessing the power of vulnerability, authenticity and just being human in all that we do, whether that’s our ways of working, our leadership style or our client relationships.