Vulnerable leadership: the key to business success
In a room full of high performing managers and consultants, the key message of RCSA’s LEADR Day Summit in Auckland (pictured below), was not about being a loud, dominant, ‘strong’ leader – it was about being vulnerable.
The LEADR Summit, held on May 15 and sponsored by payroll management services
company Oncore, boasted an impressive line-up of speakers including Xero’s L&D Manager Phil Crothers, founder of GirlBoss NZ Alexia Hilbertidou and Andrea Swan and Suzanne Pratley from New Zealand Police.
The theme of the LEADR Summit, developed for Emerging Leaders, Managing Consultants and Existing Leaders, was Vulnerable Leadership.
The summit heard that it is so important, especially when a team is moving through different stages of growth, to have leaders who possess the courage to be vulnerable.
Over the years, we’ve been taught that to be a leader is to be strong. Regardless of whether you’re in management or simply in a position of leadership in your team, you’re meant to roll with the punches and display a never-ending air of bravado.
But what we’ve started to see – and what was a key talking point for the LEADR event – is that this mentality isn’t 100% correct. Yes, being a leader requires strength, but the real strength your team wants to see is your vulnerability, not your bravado.
In fact, being vulnerable is arguably the most courageous thing you can be as a leader.
Displaying vulnerable leadership
Vulnerable leadership can be displayed in a number of ways including:
Owning mistakes: This can be tough for some. Leaders need to take responsibility for everything, including things that go wrong. Accepting that you’re not perfect may leave you feeling exposed. But sharing your first-hand experiences and the lessons you’ve learnt can help to set a tone among your team that mistakes are not the end of the world. You encourage a culture of learning and growth, where you’re invested in the development of your people and in turn they’re invested in the success of the company.
Asking for help: This is different from simply delegating tasks and responsibilities. It’s saying, ‘OK, I am skilled in ABC, but I am not skilled in XYZ and I need some help and input from those who know more’. Asking for assistance or knowledge from those in your own team actually helps them feel that you value and appreciate their feedback. It also shows that you aren’t pretending to have all the answers, and that you aren’t afraid to be real with your team. Being genuine with your employees fosters more loyalty and trust.
Open communication: Leaders need to be clear about the goals and direction of the business, as well as being more transparent about what is happening in the business on a daily basis. It also means creating a two-way conversation within the organisation rather than only top down communication. Allowing others to openly share their thoughts and ideas in a safe and constructive environment is key to building a strong team who feel connected.
Those attending the LEADR event talked about how vulnerable leadership results in better engagement from team members overall and can take your teams to new levels of performance because they better understand your position and realise you’re all on the same side.
Vulnerable leaders inspire, are more authentic, and build bonds that lead to increased performance.
It is more important now than ever to adopt an more open and transparent relationship with staff to instil a strong team culture, especially with the changing workforce, the growth of remote work and gig workers and the entrance of a new generation who expect open communication, connection and meaning from their workplaces.
Leading from the back: lessons from the frontline
We were lucky to have some real expertise in the area of learning & development and leadership attend the LEADR Summit with some interesting insights being offered.
Xero’s Phil Crothers spoke about people management and the difference it makes to an organisation when management is structured less like a pyramid.
Crothers explained that working in new, agile work environments where organisations are deeply complex and departments crossover daily, the trend is moving towards open communication and collaboration.
The key to achieving this is by giving more power and responsibility to your employees across the board.
This could mean team members are given the opportunity to be involved in decision-making processes, or given the chance to champion an idea into implementation.
“When you cultivate a culture of collaboration and trust, your people feel empowered,” Crothers said. “And this is what can make your business truly succeed.”
Alexia Hilbertidou, founder of GirlBoss NZ, an organisation advocating for equality and inspiring school aged kids to break free from their social and cultural restraints, was truly inspiring in her talk at LEADR.
Her story of courage and resilience resonated with many business owners in the room who had decided to go out on their own. She also highlighted the need to work with the next generation, which was a consistent talking point in our break-out sessions during the afternoon.
The world of work is changing, and with it comes exciting opportunities both here in New Zealand and globally. But it also means we need to lead the change and help prepare the next generation to succeed.
Working with government and with schools and education institutions will be an important step for the recruitment industry to ensure our kids are ready for future ways of working.
Auckland Town Hall event
Fresh from having sponsored the LEADR event, Oncore is proud to partner with the RCSA again for an Industry Think Tank at the New Zealand Town Hall event in Auckland on July 24.
RCSA CEO Charles Cameron will present and facilitate the discussion looking at key issues bearing down on the recruitment and staffing industry.
To secure your seat at the Town Hall event, 7.15am to 9am, book your place here.