How showing your vulnerabilities can make your team stronger

by | Jan 7, 2019

business team meeting

Who doesn’t hide certain bits of themselves from their bosses and co-workers? Who doesn’t try and tone down what they see as their weaknesses and adopt a more ‘perfect’ persona at work?

These masks that we wear in our professional lives mean that we are often quite different people at work and at home, but how can letting your mask slip help improve your team dynamics?

I know what you’re thinking… if I ask you to come on a workshop and spend a day revealing your true self to your colleagues, you might think it sounded like fluffy nonsense or a waste of time.

You probably wouldn’t believe that it would result in an often quite dramatic behaviour change and a major improvement in team dynamics.  

Strengthen relationships quickly

In order for teams to be truly effective, there needs to be a strong connection between the members. But how can you quickly build strong relationships between colleagues?

Some businesses invest in outward bound weekends, or schedule weekly trips to the pub, but there is nothing to guarantee that colleagues are actually engaging with each other on anything more than a superficial level.

What you need to do is get beyond the trivialities and help team members begin to actually relate to each other.

Use your vulnerabilities   

Now, the most basic thing members of any team have in common is that they are all human. However, most of us spend all of our professional lives pretending to be anything but, and trying to hide the fact that we make mistakes, have emotions and get nervous or scared.

This is not beneficial for team building, because people connect more with people they see to be like them, and they know that they themselves are not perfect.

Even superheroes are given weaknesses to make them more relatable, think about Superman with Kryptonite or Batman’s issues about his parents’ death.

Build trust

But how can we make use of the power of sharing vulnerability in a team building context?

Our Connectivity programmes use a ‘vulnerability approach’ to help instigate behaviour change and help your teams to perform better.

We work with you to get to know your organisation and facilitate exercises that use vulnerability to help your people connect on a deeper level and learn to really trust each other.

So, for example, an exercise might involve you being asked to draw key events in your life. You might think this has nothing to do with your job, but what happens when you share your history is that, in your colleague’s eyes, you become a real live human being that they can relate to, and most importantly, that they can trust.

To err is human

Sharing your personal histories, and therefore revealing your vulnerabilities allows you and your colleagues to be human, to drop the perfect façades and allow yourselves to have shortcomings and issues.

This can have a significant impact on team dynamics, because once we have admitted to our colleagues that we are human, and created an atmosphere of trust, we have given ourselves permission to fail.

Why on earth would we want to fail I hear you ask? Well, because then we can get more creative, we won’t only present the safe, easy ideas that we know will get accepted. Once we have revealed our human sides, we can take risks and trust our colleagues not to reject us for it.

Allowing failure breeds success

This environment breeds healthy conflict and experimentation, which can make members of the team feel safe enough to make suggestions and lead to the generation of better ideas.

If you can connect with your people, and get them to quickly and profoundly connect with and trust each other you are therefore going to have teams that perform better. 

And high-performing teams are good for business.

If you’re interested in knowing more about the power of vulnerability, academic Brené Brown’s TED talk on the subject is one of the top ten most viewed in the world, and is a great place to start and explore the subject.