As leaders when we share our vulnerabilities it can help us build trust with our teams. But we need to be careful when we do this because being vulnerable is one thing, but sharing our fears is completely another.
As leaders our role is to provide direction, help build confidence and get our team from point A to point B, and our team need confidence in both the leader and in themselves.
I worked for one boss who was very keen on being open and on sharing, and during one project he actually shared with the team that he was really concerned about our ability to succeed, and that he was afraid that this time we might have bitten off more than we could chew on this project.
As you can imagine, as a leader we were looking to him to help guide us, but when he tells us he’s not convinced, or that he is afraid, this has a very negative impact on team confidence, and also morale. And when a team loses confidence the probability of success also drops.
I asked him why he had taken the step, and why he hadn’t done as Robert Louis Stephenson said which is ‘Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others’.
He looked at me and said that it was part of being more emotionally intelligent, and that sharing vulnerability was a good thing.
Now whilst honesty is the best policy, I must admin that I am with Robert Louis Stephenson, sharing your fears and building confidence don’t go together, so I would definitely not recommend this.
I do recommend being vulnerable, but there is a big difference between doing that and sharing your fears.
Being vulnerable, to me, is more about sharing your weaknesses, your previous failures showing people that you are not perfect. Being vulnerable allows us to be more authentic.
It’s about being comfortable not having the all the answers, or being the best at everything. Which, quite frankly, is not a good thing, if the leader is the best at everything then I would say you have a poor team, especially if I am leading it.
There is a big difference between that, and showing people your fear.
Leaders have to hide their fears in order to ensure that their teams don’t let their fears take control and panic ensues. I am sure at some stage during the war Winston Churchill felt some fear as Briton stood on the brink of invasion, with Germany running rampant through Europe, but I doubt it occurred to him for one moment to share those fears.
That is not the role of the leader.
So be vulnerable, show your weaknesses, your imperfections, all of this will help you build trust as you become more authentic and connect better with your team.
But your fears, keep them to yourself!
If you want to know more about being a better leader email me at firstname.lastname@example.org