Are You Tough Enough To Be Vulnerable?

What does it take to be truly authentic? How will your life and career change if you become fearless? Vulnerability is the path to invincibility. Discover how you can built trust and become more powerful than you could ever imagine.

You Either Build Trust, Or Destroy It

Becoming a more powerful leader can not solely be achieved through training, skill development, integrating a better coaching system, a better product or service, or even a better team of salespeople.

Becoming an invincible leader takes vulnerability. It requires you to become truly vulnerable. However, it’s important to keep in mind my definition of vulnerability, which I share below.

The number one issue within the workplace is lack of trust, specifically between management and staff.

A Maritz Poll states, “Only twelve percent of employees strongly agree that their companies’ leaders are completely ethical and honest. Only seven percent strongly agree that the actions of senior leaders are completely consistent with their words.”

In every interaction; in every conversation; you are either building trust – or destroying it.

Without Trust, You Have Nothing

The cornerstone of any worthwhile relationship is trust. Trust is the mortar that binds any relationship. If diluted, it will affect the integrity of the relationship. Without trust, you have nothing to build upon that could be sustained over time.

And you are certainly not able to create a healthy coaching relationship without trust. Contrary to the opinion of some managers, there are no tools, incentives, compensation packages, or strategies that can overcome a lack of trust in any relationship.

The only way to build trust is to let go of your need to be perfect or indestructible. In other words, you must actually allow yourself to be vulnerable.

Embrace Your Humanity

Now, I am not suggesting that you should verbally share every thought that pops into your head, which could result in swift removal from your current position.

Real vulnerability encompasses who you are and what you can do to cultivate a safe environment to earn trust, build trust, reinforce trust, and demonstrate trust within your company and among your sales team.

There are more obvious ways to go about building trust, such as:

  • Honoring your word
  • Following through with your commitments
  • Being consistent with your approach to managing, coaching, and communicating
  • Being respectful and supportive of the other person’s opinion, ideas, and points of view
  • Ensuring alignment of shared goals in every conversation
  • Consistently being mindful of the law of reciprocity
  • Setting or re-setting expectations when needed

Leadership Must Be Human

While these are all healthy practices that build trust, they will only take you so far. To build a culture of trust, particularly the type of trust that develops unshakable and deep levels of loyalty, is through vulnerability.

That requires leaders to demonstrate their vulnerability in front of their direct reports. Ultimately, it requires leaders to be human.

The development of a high-performing, long-lasting team depends on the ability of the manager and the team to be vulnerable. The core intention is to encourage a deeper connection to one another.

Vulnerability-driven trust allows people to more comfortably and confidently share their mistakes, failures, challenges, feelings, and concerns. Many people bottle up those feelings inside for fear that expressing them will be misinterpreted as a sign of weakness.

Those team players will quickly realize they are not alone, as they often share the same fears, goals, and challenges as their peers.

A leader who embraces her humanity and expresses her vulnerabilities is a leader who is fearless and invincible.

When salespeople possess the unshakable belief that their leader’s intentions are sound with no hidden agenda, the salespeople do not need to feel guarded or protective around their manager or even around their team.

This promotes a stronger feeling of trust because the salespeople know that their vulnerabilities will not be used against them. Instead, they will become a conduit for their own continued development.

The Law of Reciprocity

While it may sound counter-intuitive, being vulnerable does not equate to weakness, but rather to greater strength. Keep in mind that in order to develop a team built on vulnerability-driven trust, both the leaders and their people need to share their vulnerabilities.

However, in order to develop this level of trust, it is the leader who must model and encourage this vulnerability-based behavior first. You can’t expect your salespeople to show any vulnerability until their leader shows that it is safe for them to do so.

As such, the law of reciprocity applies. If I do or say something first that may be risky to demonstrate it’s safe to do, then you’ll be more open to doing the same. People respond in kind.

The Most Powerful Leaders Are Genuine

The most powerful leaders are the ones who are willing to risk losing face in front of their team in order to encourage an atmosphere where their people would be willing to take the same risks themselves.

Of course, your display of vulnerability must be genuine and authentic or you will risk losing any existing trust.

When you notice your salespeople finally beginning to model your behavior, it is critical that vulnerability is not to be punished. The sharing of any weakness, problem, or failure can not result in any type of consequence.

Chastising or even making fun of someone else’s admissions of failure or declaration of a personal shortcoming or weakness will degrade trust.

This needs to be handled in a more appropriate and empowering way, and it is often best handled one-to-one, rather than in front of the group.

You Cannot Build Trust Overnight

Vulnerability-driven trust is not something that can be achieved in a matter of days but requires a long-term commitment to turning around an existing culture.

You can achieve this over time through repeatable shared experiences, structured exercises and activities, and meetings. Most importantly, that trust will rely on the continual modeling by leaders of the level of vulnerability that they want their team to emulate.

The end result is a cohesive team that is focused on a shared goal that everyone benefits from.

About the author

Keith Rosen

Keith Rosen is fanatical about your success. He is a globally recognized authority on…

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