Should You Be Vulnerable In The World Of Business
– And are you Brave Enough?
Sharing vulnerability in the realm of entrepreneurship and leadership is a multifaceted and intricate endeavour, entangled with both the spectre of shame and the shadow of fear, which ought not be ignored. The interplay between shame and fear in this decision-making process adds complexity to an already intricate issue.
Why share Vulnerability?
1. Builds Trust and Authenticity:
Sharing vulnerability has the potential to make leaders and entrepreneurs, relatable to employees, customers, and investors. This authenticity will foster trust, as people connect with those who display genuine emotions and struggles. It also involves confronting and overcoming the shame associated with admitting vulnerabilities.
2. Enhances Communication:
Vulnerability may enhance communication within a team, organisation or with clients. When leaders admit their shortcomings or concerns, it encourages open dialogue and problem-solving. People are likely to feel more comfortable sharing their own thoughts and concerns, leading to better decision-making while diminishing the fear of being judged or shamed.
3. Facilitates Learning and Growth:
Acknowledging vulnerability has the potential to be a catalyst for personal and professional growth. It shows a willingness to learn from mistakes and adapt to changing circumstances, which then lead to innovation and resilience. This process involves overcoming the fear of failure and the shame likely to accompany it.
4. Fosters Resilience and Adaptation:
In fast moving, rapidly changing business environments, vulnerability can be a strength. It allows leaders to recognise shortcomings and adapt to new challenges more quickly, ultimately increasing the ability to thrive in dynamic markets. It involves confronting the fear of change and the shame of admitting limitations.
Disadvantages of Sharing Vulnerability:
1. Perceived Weakness:
The fear of appearing weak is a major concern for entrepreneurs and leaders. Many worry that sharing vulnerability will diminish their authority or deter investors and customers who seek strong and unwavering leadership. Indeed, there may well be occasions when this is the case. They then intertwine this fear with the shame of vulnerability.
2. Risk of Exploitation:
In competitive industries, revealing vulnerability may expose weaknesses that competitors could exploit. Entrepreneurs and leaders might feel the need to project an image of invulnerability to protect their market position. This fear involves the shame of being seen as vulnerable in a competitive world.
3. Impact on Confidence:
Overexposing vulnerability might erode confidence in Business and with individual clients. One quality of leadership is certainty and the leader’s ability to make sound decisions. While it’s essential to acknowledge flaws, constantly expressing self-doubt will undermine morale and productivity.
4. Loss of Control:
Is sharing vulnerability a slippery slope to losing power? Leaders might well fear if they disclose too much, they will lose control of their image and the narrative surrounding their business. It’s a delicate balance to strike, navigating between open communication and the fear of losing control with the shame of losing face.
The Role of Fear and Shame:
So fear and shame play pivotal roles in the decision-making process with sharing vulnerability. Entrepreneurs and leaders may understandably fear the consequences of vulnerability, such as the potential for negative judgments, loss of credibility, or damage to their professional image.
If the leader experiences shame, they will find it difficult, even impossible to share vulnerability lest it exposes that shame. Since shame needs the oxygen of secrecy to thrive, it’s compounded when held back by fear of judgement and further shaming.
For this reason, it’s imperative the leader deals with their shame in the safe environment of the therapy room or with a skilled coach. Then the leader will feel grounded and able to share a measure of vulnerability in the marketplace.
The decision to share vulnerability within entrepreneurship and leadership involves navigating the intricate relationship between fear, shame, and authenticity. It necessitates a delicate balance between authenticity and maintaining a sense of control and authority.
Fear and shame, although natural responses to potential risks, must be managed and channelled into sources of motivation rather than obstacles to growth.
Ultimately, leaders who successfully navigate this complex terrain will build trust, foster innovation, and strengthen their client base or organisations.
Who knows? Perhaps our politicians who are supposed to lead us will benefit from a dose of vulnerability as an aid to honesty and humility.
Next time……a closer look at shame and how to deal with it.
For further reading, writers including Brene Brown have written extensively about vulnerability.