3 Actions to Help You Find Success in Vulnerability

"Once I saw the consistent benefits of a more collaborative approach, it's become the only way I lead." Brian explores how asking for help can lead to better results and a stronger team.

I often talk about how important vulnerability has been in my leadership journey.

But learning to be vulnerable doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not a switch you can turn on and off. It’s something that takes time to embrace.

In college, I would often zone out during lectures. I wouldn’t risk raising my hand to ask a question because I didn’t want to feel embarrassed if the answer had already been covered.

Years later, early in my business, I felt the pressure to know every answer. So I felt inadequate when I got to the point that I didn’t know how to take my business to the next level. (Today, that feeling gets referred to as imposter syndrome.)

In both examples, I was limited by my lack of vulnerability. Once I dug deep, I realized it’s much better to seek out others’ experience and perspectives than to hide that I don’t know something.

We need to embrace vulnerability for growth.

It’s easy for entrepreneurs to doubt themselves:

  • “Maybe I’m not cut out for this because I don’t know the answers.” 
  • “I’ve gone as far as I can go because I don’t know the next steps to take.”
  • “What if I’m wrong?”

The answers are out there.

You just need to ask others for help.

These days, I’d rather risk embarrassment, ask the question, and know the answer. I’d rather ask for guidance from a colleague who knows more about the challenge I’m facing. I’d rather admit to my team that I don’t know the solution and invite their input.

Here are three actions you can take to find greater success through vulnerability:

1. Admit when you don’t know something.

Part of vulnerability is admitting you don’t know something. You don’t have all the solutions. So often, we put pressure on ourselves to come up with all the answers. After all, we have customers and people on our teams who look to us for them.

The power of vulnerability is saying, “I don’t know, but let’s work together to find the answer.”

2. Ask questions.

Some studies show that asking questions and admitting you don’t know something is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. I believe that’s an important part of being a leader.

Being able to ask questions allows you to learn from others and expand your knowledge. It also empowers the people on your team to be important contributors. 

3. Acknowledge when someone is smarter than you or has a better solution.

It’s a good business strategy to surround yourself with smart, talented people. There’s a reason for the saying, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you need to find another room.” 

Let’s face it. There are certain areas where we have unique expertise. But no one is an expert at everything.

Admitting that someone is smarter, stronger, or more capable than you at something doesn’t diminish your value.

Don’t beat yourself up too much. Acknowledge that someone else may have a better answer. Learn from what they have to share. 

Once I saw the consistent benefits of a more collaborative approach, it’s become the only way I lead. And when I facilitate strategic planning for other business teams, I always make space for everyone to be vulnerable and authentic in their contributions to the discussion. It brings out the best for the whole team.

Leveraging these ideas and solutions will make you better as a team and lead to greater business success.

Know someone who could use encouragement to ask for help? Please share this article with them.

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