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  • Writer's pictureErin Leslie

Be Vulnerable. Be Valuable.

"Seeking a vulnerable leader with key strategic planning abilities..." wrote no one ever on a job posting. Isn't that what a professional career is all about? Exposing oneself to challenges, criticism, appraisal, measurement, potential failures and striving for success (however you define it).

If you’re introverted, “vulnerability” is the farthest adjective you want to be associated with. If you’re extroverted exposing your weaknesses is the opposite goal in your approach to business. Where is the middle ground for an employee? How does one be vulnerable at work? Why is the word "vulnerable" so important in business?

Recognize your brand and share it.

As a senior manager its important to empower employees to recognize their brand and be willing to showcase it throughout their initiatives so that others can assess how they can benefit from their colleagues talents. No one knows what you are doing unless you tell them. Using a quick weekly 15 minute session to huddle as a team allows individuals to briefly touch on the key initiatives they are working on, providing insights to other team members who might be able to help, or expose talents or features that some one else is looking for on their projects. That's one example of being vulnerable, exposing your work to peers and in return getting inquiry, support and advice for the sake of sharing and growing. It also pays dividends on productivity.

A good example of this is John, a member of my team whom was trying to improve his analytical skills leveraging different database languages. I knew John was working with new tools and I encouraged him to explore new aspects of technology to improve his main tasks in financial reporting. Meanwhile Carly participated in a project to build a tool to provide dashboard features in order to report and manage large meeting forums. Having the two members discuss their tasks at the huddle, exposed that one individual knew SQL development well and was using it actively to accomplish a dashboard, and another individual needed to connect with them to get support on how to better leverage SQL software to improve the analytics database they were building. A connection was born and thought leadership took over.

Being vulnerable also means networking.

I encourage people every day to be open, talk to strangers. The simple truth is you never know what you will learn or find. Support your team and peers on how to approach a senior leader to ask for 30 minutes of face time to learn, get advice or improve a specific skill. Asking another human being to share their experience with you is one of the biggest forms of flattery and I have found many people will engage you when you go out and ask for them to take time to connect.

During my earlier years after just joining a new company, I approached an executive in the corridors and requested a meeting. After observing her professional acumen and behaviours for a few weeks, I felt as though she had capabilities that inspired me as well as a large network behind her that could allow me to understand the company easily. That one request to meet and discuss the organization, her purpose and company objectives, lead to a 15-year friendship and valuable professional support. Don't predict your future, setup the future and live it through.

Connect on a human level.

Everyone has a compelling story to tell about him or herself. What is your story? Share it with your network. It will inspire your peers to achieve in their own careers. Through your version of tenacity, you will connect on a level that is impermeable otherwise in business. Your professional network will be struck by your honesty and value your opinion more in future dealings simply because your vulnerability built a trust and a bond that is the root of integrity.

I have a few stories to share with you; they will inspire and provide business knowledge and learning's that will uplift your sense of purpose and drive. Building a strong emotional footprint in your network is essential to any business or personal relationship. Knowing that people can count on you is the footprint you leave every time you walk out of a boardroom, classroom or team huddle. Please continue to follow my posts for more valuable business insights, EQ bridge building methods and editorials on building a successful team.

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