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Vulnerability is the Key to Even Better Performing Teams

The Skyhooks told us that Ego is not a Dirty Word.

Mmmm, debatable!

Yes there are some benefits to a ‘healthy’ ego, but thanks to people like Brené Brown we now know that our ego is the part of us that craves acceptance, attention and wants to protect our self-worth at all costs. The opposite of ego? Vulnerability.

Vulnerability = the ability to be vulnerable.

A lack of vulnerability detracts from our ability to build trusting, healthy relationships both at home and at work.

Imagine you work in a team of 'high performers' where the culture is head down, work done. Where no one speaks up, where the boss is always right and the team is chastised for mistakes and missed deadlines. These types of teams are more likely to burn out, have higher turnover and typically lower performance, as the culture is competition over collaboration.

Traditional wisdom is that work is the time for logic and focus, home is where the emotions live (outdated much). But we know so much more now about what builds a successful team and psychological safety is one of the biggest factors! A team can't have psychological safety if they aren't showing up as their full selves.

The Utopia

On the flip side, imagine a team where all members value each other, contribute equally and collaborate vs compete. Where mistakes are owned and learned from. This is where a little bit of vulnerability can lead us.

What might a lack of vulnerability look like at work?

  • A leader never conceding that they don’t know something or having to always jump in with an answer before anyone else

  • People being afraid to discuss deep topics like diversity and inclusivity for fear of being wrong or saying the wrong things

  • Covering up mistakes instead of owning them

  • Perfectionism rather than mistakes and learning

So what do we do instead? Start small and build real conversations into the mix. As leaders we model vulnerability first and foremost. We can't expect our people to open up and admit mistakes or fears if we're a closed book.

  1. Start small. Developing trust and psychological safety is a slow burn!

  2. Notice when you are feeling vulnerable (it can often disguise itself as fear or anger or disappointment) and sit with it for a while. Try to put it into words .

  3. Let others know your fears, worries, your development goals, times when you were wrong

  4. Ask for advice

  5. Hold back and let others speak up

  6. Recognise and applaud others’ vulnerability

  7. Find someone you can trust and practice vulnerability

  8. Talk directly to your team about what would help them feel safer, more trusting

Understanding our own triggers and responses is one of the quickest ways to have better relationships with yourself and others.

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