Vulnerability is a pretty hot buzzword, especially when used in the workplace. But what does it mean? How do you create a work environment that encourages your employees to be vulnerable and what does that look like?
Vulnerability can commonly be viewed as sharing your challenges or frustrations in an overly emotional way. That’s not what it is at Aequilibrium.
How vulnerability shows up for my team
To us, vulnerability is being able to express your failures, mistakes, and what you’re struggling with in a way that helps everyone grow.
Towards the end of 2015, I had a few new team members join the company. They ranged from new grads to experienced individuals in their respective fields. Over the past year and a half, I’ve seen each of them transform immensely. They’ve brought on board some of our major clients, set the foundation for our IP initiatives, and helped establish our presence with clients and candidates in Vancouver. Their perseverance and willingness to share their setbacks, what they’ve learned and how they’re going to create the next solution is what enables alignment and visibility in our organization.
How vulnerability shows up for me
As a leader, I’ve learned to be selective when providing my ideas and solutions to the team to create a space for them to find their own solutions, evaluate the options they’ve envisioned, and prioritize them based on potential impact. To build a collaborative environment, I encourage my team to be curious and challenge the status quo to combine the know-how with finding original solutions. I also encourage them to fail and fail fast. Failure is often part of the journey in finding the best answer and I share with my team to not let the fear of failure hinder their ability to think outside of the box, to go outside of their comfort zone, or to take calculated risks.
When you’re trying to create products that have never been created before, you’re not going to get it right the first time. And if you choose to wait until everything is “perfect,” you probably waited too long to launch. Speed is the new currency for business. There’s no one to look to for the right answer and failing fast is what gives you the experience to know how to build the best product for your clients.
How vulnerability impacts our culture
Creating a safe space for my team to speak up, ask questions, and come up with their own data-backed solutions allows us to create a self-organizing culture. Input from each team member is listened-to and valued based on the logical arguments they provide as opposed to their position or seniority. By being vulnerable and sharing our mistakes and learnings with each other, we’re also able to share our wins as a team. We celebrate together and grow closer as a community.
I’m not saying that creating vulnerability in the workplace is easy, but we’re committed to making it work. We haven’t mastered it yet, but we know the importance it can have on team performance, morale, and growth.
As a CEO, sometimes there can be pressure to show vulnerability for your team, and it can be tough to do so. I’m a member of ACETECH, an organization that connects executives and people in leadership roles to vulnerably share their challenges with one another. I’m currently at the Whistler Summit and am excited to hear how other leaders bring vulnerability into their team environments!
Aequilibrium is a digital design and software development studio. Speed, craftsmanship, and user experience are at the helm of our creations. Get in touch to work with us or to say hello—new friends are always welcome!
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