One of those hard lessons in both leadership and life is internalizing the idea that asking for help when you need it is actually a strength, not a weakness. This idea is highly correlated with another difficult concept to master — admitting you don’t know, that you don’t have all of the answers, even acknowledging there is a distinct possibility that you could be dead wrong in your thinking.
Asking for help, and admitting you don’t know, belong to the long list of qualities that make leaders human. These are displays of vulnerability others find credible in leaders.
Being vulnerable with others requires the power of self-confidence. This sense of self allows leaders to be more genuine and authentic with their views. When others see a leader become vulnerable, they learn how to meet uncertainty with openness and a willingness to learn.
This experience pulls others closer to the leader, generating more trust and goodwill. In the eyes of others, a vulnerable leader is both refreshing and deserving of more frankness and commitment.
Beyond the discomfort in showing others more of themselves, leaders often have a false view of what it means to be vulnerable. They can see it as a weak and flaccid expression of leadership. Too many leaders view vulnerability as meaning they should share their deepest concerns, secrets, and anxieties with others. So you know, opening your kimono of insecurities is always creepy, scares people, and actually undermines a leader’s credibility. Showing vulnerability is not about the inappropriate disclosure of your dark side or your neuroses.
Vulnerability is best displayed by openness and transparency about what you really think, especially when you are less certain than others might expect. At the core of leadership, vulnerability is a willingness to be less sure about what you know, how you know it, and what to do about it. Being less certain is a sign of wisdom, not doubt. As Brene Brown reminds us, “Vulnerability is the best measure of courage.”