To a mature and intelligent leader, vulnerability is not a weakness. It is a strength skilled leaders can wield as a superpower to inspire, engage, and motivate their teams. Through vulnerability, leaders can lay the foundations of a company culture based on psychological safety and inclusion.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.” – Brene Brown. 

Leadership coaching professionals preach the value of vulnerability as an essential component of intelligent leadership.

Isn’t vulnerability a weakness on the part of a leader, however? Is that not what authority-based, top-down leadership has always taught us?

Vulnerability is one of the strengths of an intelligent leader. 

The Role of Vulnerability in Leadership

The position of the authoritarian leader demands zero vulnerability. People understand, however, that there are no infallible and invulnerable leaders. Such an image is a front to cover up something. It is insincere and fake. Therefore, a leader starting from this flawed position fails at one of the basic objectives of intelligent leadership: building trust.

Vulnerability doesn’t just make leaders human and relatable. It makes them sincere and trustworthy.

Since it takes courage to display vulnerability, vulnerable leaders become even more admiration-worthy on its account.

Leadership vulnerability is not about freely airing all your fears, secrets, and concerns as a leader. It is about being your genuine self. It is about trust, honesty, reliability, and the ability to relate to those under your leadership.

The key to trust, vulnerability creates opportunities for building meaningful relationships and social connections. And, as leadership coaching professionals will tell you, intelligent leadership is precisely about building such connections.

Building stronger connections with your team and encouraging your employees to do the same lets you enhance morale, engagement, and productivity.

The Advantages of Vulnerability in Leadership

Given its power over human connections, vulnerability helps leaders connect with their peers and reports in many ways.

Vulnerability Demonstrates Strength of Character

As I’ve pointed out in my executive coaching books, mature, intelligent leaders don’t shy away from responsibility. Such leaders take responsibility for their actions and the actions of employees under their direction. They own their experiences and won’t hesitate to admit faults and mistakes.

All this proves high emotional intelligence.

Vulnerability Inspires Creativity

A vulnerable leader leaves room for employees to relax and contribute constructive ideas in a meaningful way. Such a leader creates a safe environment that allows employees to assume psychological responsibility for their work. An environment that genuinely values input encourages creative solutions, enhancing engagement and employee loyalty.

Expressing Vulnerability Defeats Stress

The psychological safety that results from vulnerability is a boon for leaders and employees alike. Teams that work in psychologically safe environments tend to perform better and be happier and more willing to take responsibility for failures.

Safe environments encourage teams to “fail well” and succeed faster as a result.

Safety fosters creativity, growth, and performance. 

Vulnerability Facilitates Leadership Growth

If you admit that you don’t have all the answers and need help, you open yourself to continuous learning and improvement. You allow fresh options and solutions to come to you. You involve your team on a meaningful level, allowing your employees to mold you into a better, more intelligent, and mature leader.

You allow yourself to see the value in leadership and business coaching.

Vulnerability Encourages Shared Ownership

Shared ownership can be the focal point of a healthy organizational culture. The leader’s vulnerability leaves room for ideas and solutions from everyone, allowing the team to assume shared ownership of successes and failures.

Leadership Vulnerability Strengthens Teams

Teams that share ownership of ideas, solutions, and successes are strong. When leaders admit that they don’t have all the answers, they lay the foundations of trust. Steeped in healthy company culture, this trust can blossom into some of the strongest work-related connections.

How Do You Demonstrate Vulnerability? 

Recognizing the value of vulnerability is the first step toward wielding it as a superpower.

Face your fears and self-doubt to gain a grasp of your vulnerability. Let go of the urge to come up with an answer for everything. Muster the courage to admit that you don’t know. Practice conveying vulnerability. Learn to listen to others and consider them viable sources of solutions.

Far from being a liability, vulnerability is a significant asset in the context of intelligent leadership and executive coaching. It defeats stress, promotes self-awareness, and allows leaders to build meaningful connections for their benefit and the benefit of their organization.


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