Want more productivity from your team?
Want greater retention?
Want everyone to love you?
Can’t promise that. But this will be a very good start:
I know this flies in the face of everything you have ever been taught about how to handle yourself in the workplace. You dress for success, deliver well-rehearsed elevator speeches and snag regular “face-time” with the boss.
You have worked hard to hone your leadership skills – read articles, taken workshops and implemented much of what you are learning about how to manage people into your day to day interactions. You acknowledge your team early and often and have an open-door policy. Your direct reports know they can come to you with a challenge or problem.
You make sure to avoid talking about your personal life – just sharing enough to let people know you don’t live by yourself with 23 cats.
But none of this is particularly authentic or vulnerable – in fact it could feel a bit more calculated. And there is a very important place for calculation on the job.
But there is a chance that all of us may be a bit calculation-heavy when it comes to our presence in the workplace. Adding in vulnerability might spice up the equation.
“What Bosses Gain from Being Vulnerable” published in the Harvard Business Review, December 11, 2014 makes the point clear;
“…data is suggesting that we may want to revisit the idea of projecting an image. Research shows that onlookers subconsciously register lack of authenticity.”
So where does this leave us? How do we balance professionalism and vulnerability? Are those concepts truly at odds with each other?
Coach Me Quick tips for spicing things up with vulnerability:
- You poured in salt instead of sugar? Admit mistakes and apologize for them. Apologies don’t cost a thing and they have an ability to melt resentment and mis-trust.
- Someone added too much Cayenne? Forgive your colleagues, direct reports and bosses for mistakes they make. Work with them to create strategies to avoid similar mistakes in the future.
- Was it Cumin or Turmeric? Be honest about not knowing all the answers. Let people know that you will find the answer and report back. This reduces anxiety (namely YOURS) and shifts the expectations to a more reasonable zone.
- Your spice rack empty! Ask for help. Don’t wait and try to figure things out on your own. People love to help when they are asked with kindness.
Remember that there is a place for vulnerability in the spicy meal that is your professional life. Bon Appetit!