The best leaders are publicly vulnerable

by Evan Davies, Chief Executive - VIC, QLD & NZ | |   Managing People
The best leaders are publicly vulnerable

Most people assume being vulnerable is a bad thing. However when CEOs share their vulnerabilities in the workplace, it can fuel the strongest relationships, often leading to greater success.

“The hardest thing about being a leader is demonstrating or showing vulnerability... When the leader demonstrates vulnerability and sensibility and brings people together, the team wins.” - Howard Shultz, CEO of Starbucks.

Most people assume being vulnerable is a bad thing - it infers you've got weaknesses or are defenceless. However showing weaknesses and sharing vulnerabilities can fuel the strongest relationships, which often leads to greater success.

Great leaders recognise the importance of showing their weaknesses at work because it is the foundation for open and nonjudgmental communications. When someone admits they're vulnerable, it demonstrates trust and respect with the person or people you're confiding in.  It can result in a complete transformation in relationships and performance.

What does a vulnerable leader look like?

Being vulnerable in the workplace doesn't mean walking around with a box of tissues sharing your deepest, most personal secrets. It simply means you are able to let your guard down, put aside any public facade, and be your real self.

A vulnerable leader is one who leaves his or her ego at the door, is comfortable with not having all the answers, and wholeheartedly embraces the perspectives, opinions, and thoughts of his or her people.

A vulnerable leader is an active listener. They aren't worried about always saying the 'right' thing and they remain engaged and focused on the conversation. Because of this, they are better able to motivate and encourage staff as they develop the next great idea and bring it to life.

Being vulnerable requires a mindset of seeing the business through the eyes the organisation. This encourages employees to become more involved in - and to become the drivers of - the conversation. Your employees feel connected, invested, respected, and vital to the organisation. Everyone benefits.

CEOs typically feel the pressure to perform at a higher level than others. But leaders who project pure confidence - even when everyone knows things aren't going well - lose credibility and mute voices of dissent. A great leader accepts vulnerability as a strength. It doesn’t make you weak; it actually makes you a better leader. And it will help you innovate too.


The CEO Institute was founded in 1992. It is now Australia's leading membership organisation for CEOs and senior executives. It provides a forum for over 1,000 Chief Executive members to connect and share their learning with each other. In 2011, The CEO Institute became the world’s first global certification body for CEOs, and in 2013, partnered with UNESCO in support of the "Malala Fund for Girls' Right to Education". In 2014, they began offering their programs globally.

The CEO Syndicate is an exclusive peer support network for CEOs. The first meeting of The CEO Syndicate program was held in Melbourne in June 1992. Offices were opened in Adelaide in 1996 and Sydney and Brisbane in 1997, with Perth launching in 2007. In 2015, the New Zealand office opened.

The Future CEO program is a certification course designed by the business leaders of today for the business leaders of tomorrow. The first Future CEO meeting was held in Melbourne in May 2012. In 2014, the "Future CEO Scholarship Fund for Women" was established, and continues to be offered today.

Membership of The CEO Institute is by invitation only. To register your interest click enquire.

 

 

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