We are often told to keep our personal lives distant from work, to not allow overlapping and distracting emotional influences on any realm of the workforce. Expressing emotions in any business and professional setting has often been eschewed. Yet, an increasing acceptance of allowing vulnerability in our workplaces is helping to create a more productive, creative, energized and loyal workforce. A balance between vulnerability and strength can be achieved.

When one strips away our professional identities—a doctor, teacher, lawyer, coder, secretary, retail associate, etc., our human identities and connections with each other begin to emerge.  Our fears, triumphs, frustrations, joys, sorrows, and annoyances all seem to sound alike if we’re open and honest with ourselves and each other. The opportunity to express vulnerability in the workplace allows for sharing of our multidimensional human tendencies, needs, and frailties, thus easing the weight of our burdens.

Organizations and leaders embracing vulnerability is becoming more widely accepted for the following reasons:

  • Vulnerability promotes authenticity and trustworthiness, which yields more positive and constructive behavior.
  • One example in promoting vulnerability is adopting the servant leadership model, which yields more positive and constructive behavior in employees, and a greater hope and trust in the leader and organization as a whole.
  • Additionally, how a leader reacts to employee mistakes, can contribute or be detrimental to employee satisfaction. By encouraging forgiveness, employees feel trusted that they can make, learn, and most importantly grow from their mistakes.
  • Adopting a vulnerable yet brave approach to leadership opens the team for sharing counsel and promoting of ideas.

In a cut throat work culture that is becoming more competitive, perhaps it pays to embrace a balance of vulnerability and toughness, along with hierarchy and egalitarian partnership to maximize the efforts of our human capital. We are not robots merely existing to maximize profits and resources, at of the root of our professional identities, we are just human.