It may sound counterintuitive to some, but allowing yourself to be vulnerable as a leader is key to running a smooth and successful business.
Far too many people seem to believe that management is synonymous with dominance. But chances are high that if you put brute force and fear first when operating as a manager, you are going to end up presiding over an unhappy workforce. As someone who has been one herself, Transformational Leadership Coach René Murata knows for a fact that unhappy workers are never going to be able to deliver their best work.
Now the CEO and founder of two of her own companies, René has found that if you conduct yourself with compassion, empathy and consideration, then your employees are far more likely to feel as though their work and time is valued. Not only is this good for morale, it’s also great for productivity. In fact, there are loads of studies out there that have shown that workers who are content and included by management do more work to a higher standard.
But it’s not as simple as saying you want to start leading with compassion. If you really want to do so effectively – and reap the many rewards compassionate leadership has to offer – you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable. It’s important to remember here that “vulnerable” doesn’t necessarily mean weak or timid, and that when done in the right way, vulnerability should only strengthen your abilities as a boss rather than hinder them. You see, emotional vulnerability is all about letting people in on the tough times and accepting that everyone (yourself included) is fallible. By committing to cultivating openness and acceptance and bringing those qualities into the workplace, you will start to see the dynamics between you and your team getting stronger.
With vulnerability taking its place at the heart of your office environment, cooperation, collaboration and innovation will gradually become the norm, and you will find that those who work with and below you will be more willing to invest in the future of the business.
When deciding to lead with compassion, there are three components that René has found to be particularly crucial to doing so successfully.
Here, she explains her top tips and outlines exactly how they can help you to get the best out of your workforce.
Get real with your team when things are tough
Honesty is a key part of allowing yourself to be vulnerable, and it is also absolutely necessary if you want your workers to feel heard and valued as part of the company. But being honest isn’t always that easy, particularly when it comes to opening up about issues facing the business. René found this when her first company RISK – which stands for Risk Integrity Safety Management – was facing bankruptcy. As the person who had set up and presided over the business from its inception, admitting that things were taking a turn for the worst was immensely difficult.
Ultimately, she didn’t want her employees to feel insecure or as though they had been let down, but ignoring the problem was never going to make it go away. Plus, people are intuitive – if you try to hide something too big for too long, it’s likely to come out anyway, but in a far less manageable way. So, she sat down with her team and filled them in on the downturn and late payments from clients that had led to the situation, and explained what she was doing to rectify things, including pursuing different contract terms and looking into financing options. Not only did this help to get everybody on the same page, but it also made for an incredible collaborative effort that René could not have foreseen.
In letting her workers in on the problems at hand, René had shown them that they were valued, and in return they put the work into making the rescue effort that much smoother. Some made suggestions about different clients they could contact, some helped to explore work expansion options, and others still provided temporary financing for the company.
Be willing to accept criticism about yourself
Probably one of the hardest things you can do as a manager is sit there and listen to your workers tell you exactly where they think you are going wrong and what you could improve upon. But, while it might make for an uncomfortable conversation and some difficult self-reflection in the aftermath, it is vitally important for three main reasons.
First and foremost, it lets your team feel as though what they have to say really matters which, as we know, is key in encouraging them to give their best to the business. And this isn’t just beneficial for the worker, because secondly, being open to critique can help you to recognise any blind spots you might have that need addressing. In René’s case, listening to the criticisms of her employees led her to the realisation that the training she had been giving wasn’t up to scratch, and so with their help she was able to create a game plan that helped to tighten things up. Finally, inviting constructive criticism also helps to make you relatable, because it allows your team to see you not just as a boss but as a human being as well.
It’s okay to share your wins!
Vulnerability isn’t just about letting your guard down and improving on the bad times. It is also very much about basking in your victories and allowing those who work for you to share in the glory. While for some this may feel like showboating and therefore go against their natural instincts, it is actually a sign that someone is stepping into their power. Doing so will encourage others to strive for similar wins, which can do great things both for the individual and the company they work for.
Always keep in mind that it’s not about gloating or showing yourself to be better than anyone else. Rather, it’s about sharing your achievements to show others that they, too, can achieve. As someone who was bullied in school for being “too smart,” René struggled to see that for a while. But as the dozens of awards she won over the years quietly stacked up, she gradually came to realise that by talking about them with employees and clients alike, she could become a light for other ambitious people.
This openness about her achievements coupled with her honesty and willingness to accept critique are part of the reason she is so respected and revered as a leader, showing that vulnerability can bring with it huge rewards for those in managerial positions.
Find out more about René here: www.renemurata.com