Prominent American researcher Brene Brown, in her famous TED Talk titled “The Power of Vulnerability,” says that vulnerability is the willingness to be seen and to show up authentically in your life, even when there are no guarantees. She says that vulnerability involves taking risks and being open to the possibility of failure or rejection. Her talk has been viewed over 60 million times and has helped countless people feel more comfortable sharing their vulnerabilities. While Brown highlights the importance of vulnerability as a key aspect of personal growth and meaningful connections with others, most people struggle with it.
In a world that often values strength, power, and invincibility, it can be difficult for most people to embrace vulnerability. For women at work, this challenge can be particularly daunting as they navigate the unique challenges of leadership and the expectations placed on them in the workplace.
However, when women leaders and individuals are willing to show their vulnerabilities and share their stories, they can create a sense of connection and authenticity that can help them build stronger relationships with their team and peers.
Furthermore, embracing vulnerability can also have positive impact on mental health, reducing stigma and promoting a culture of openness and support. In this article, we will explore the power of vulnerability for women in leadership and mental health, and how sharing your story can drive connection and support.
The Power of Vulnerability in Women’s Leadership
Women in leadership face unique challenges in the workplace, including bias, discrimination, and imposter syndrome. These challenges can be isolating and make it difficult to build connections with colleagues and employees. Sharing your journey and experiences will help you create a sense of connection and authenticity that can help build stronger relationships with your team.
For example, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign was marked by her willingness to show vulnerability and share personal stories. In one speech, she spoke about the difficulties she faced after her loss in the 2008 Democratic primary, including feelings of failure and isolation. By sharing her vulnerability, she was able to connect with voters on a deeper level and create a sense of authenticity that helped her build support.
Similarly, Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand (2017 – 2023), has been praised for her empathetic leadership style, which includes being willing to show vulnerability. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ardern was open about the challenges of being a new mother and leader during a crisis. When she ended her tenure, she clearly told people that her tank was full and she cannot serve anymore. The honesty, as a leader, was refreshing. By sharing her struggles, she was able to connect with the public and create a sense of trust and empathy.
The Power of Vulnerability in Mental Health
Mental health can be a taboo topic, particularly in the workplace. However, when women leaders and individuals are willing to show vulnerability and share their struggles with mental health, they can reduce stigma and improve mental health outcomes. Women at work often think they need to be rebellious and act as “girl bosses” to get recognized at the workplace. This is not always true as vulnerability can be an equally powerful tool to showcase your leadership.
For example, Brené Brown in her TED Talk also spoke about her personal struggles with vulnerability and how they were linked to her mental health. She shared how embracing vulnerability helped her overcome anxiety and depression and become a more resilient person.
Similarly, Jenny Lawson, a mental health advocate was praised for her willingness to share her struggles with anxiety and depression. Her memoir, “Furiously Happy,” explores her experiences with mental illness in a humorous and relatable way, helping to reduce stigma and create a sense of connection with her readers.
These examples of real women around the globe show us that vulnerability can help women thrive in more than just the office. It applies to any stage of life when women wish to lead and inspire others – not just as a team leader or project manager at a top agency. Even a woman next door could display empathy or share her journey to connect deeper with her community and its members!
How to Embrace Vulnerability
If you’re interested in embracing vulnerability, there are several steps you can take to start small but immediately. First, start by reflecting on your life experiences and identifying areas where you may be hesitant to show vulnerability. This could include sharing personal stories, admitting mistakes, or asking for help.
Next, practice sharing your vulnerabilities with trusted friends or colleagues. This could include friends who you know won’t judge you or colleagues who won’t impact your reputation at work. Open up to them and try some approaches such as sharing a personal story or admitting to a mistake you made at work. By doing so, you can build your comfort with vulnerability and begin to create connections with others.
Finally, consider how you can use the vulnerability to drive positive change in your organization or community. This could involve sharing your personal experiences with mental health, advocating for mental health resources in the workplace, or creating a culture of openness and support.
Perhaps you could even share your journey with becoming vulnerable. Start with how you were afraid or skeptical to share your experiences and mistakes even with your close circle. Who inspired you to open up and how did it make you feel? What was the first thing you shared and how was it received by the people you shared it with? Did you feel a sense of unburdening and relief? How did this journey help you share more stories and open up more comfortably with people (maybe even strangers)? Journal how you have shown up for the people closest to you and your team members. Note how that has helped you grow as a person and leader.
Vulnerability can be a powerful tool for working ladies and individuals seeking to improve their mental health. By sharing stories and showing vulnerabilities, women can create connections with others, build trust and empathy, and drive positive change.
Remember that vulnerability is not a weakness, but rather a strength that can help you build deeper connections with others and create positive change. As working ladies, it’s important to recognize that vulnerability can be a key aspect of our leadership style.
By being open and authentic with our team, we can create a sense of trust and empathy that can help us build stronger relationships and drive better outcomes. Similarly, by being willing to share our struggles with mental health, we can reduce stigma and create a culture of support in our workplace.
In conclusion, the power of vulnerability cannot be understated. It is neither a weakness nor a channel for people to criticize your competence. Let’s continue to share our stories, show our vulnerabilities, and build a more compassionate and empathetic world! You can talk to us to know more about how you can express yourself more transparently as a leader and build courage in the process.