Last year, Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavalier’s had a panic attack on the court. He had been struggling with the loss of his grandma and the grief overtook him. Instead of playing tough or trying to hide the fact that he was hurting he stood up proudly and announced, “Everyone is going through something.”
Kevin Love showed the world how courageous he was by simply embracing his vulnerability, something many of us are often afraid to do. But why is this?
Society has taught us that being vulnerable is a sign of weakness. It exposes our insecurities, incapacity, and fears. It is like laying all your cards on the table during a poker game, we fear that we are instantly at a disadvantage. But a new wave of thinking shows that embracing vulnerability is actually crucial to success, especially in the workplace.
Jason Fordu, CEO of Calyx, states, “Growth, both personal and professional, can only happen if you are vulnerable. It is when your team is open and honest that true innovation occurs.”
By creating a work culture where vulnerability is feared, you’ve created a culture where creativity and innovation will falter. It takes great courage to be vulnerable and have uncomfortable conversations with colleagues – but it is through the discomfort that magic can happen.
Ed Grauel, Calyx’s COO, noted that their core values – “Challenge everything. Do what’s right. Own it.” – have created a culture that embraces vulnerability. Employees feel open to express their thought and ideas, which Calyx has greatly benefitted from.
Trust is a key part of a collaborative workspace, yet many struggle with trust in a professional context. Trust among colleagues is not necessarily the same as trust in a personal relationship. In the workplace, trust often comes down to accountability. If you assign a task to a co-worker, will they get it done and give it their best effort? Are people in the office willing to ask for help if needed? If you don’t create a work culture that tolerates vulnerability, your people will likely be uncomfortable asking for help.
Developing trust in yourself and your co-workers can not only increase satisfaction in the workplace but also improve productivity.
If you are going to stand up, you risk falling. It’s a consequence of vulnerability and courage, and why so many people decide to remain in the background. However, if you create an environment where colleagues help each other up when they’ve been knocked down it increases the willingness to become more vocal and vulnerable.
Talented leaders should look for people who have failed and were willing to try again. Having resilient people on your team is essential to success.
Almost all businesses have some sort of company values, but far fewer actually live them. Core values define a company at the deepest levels. Jason Fordu begins every meeting by repeating Calyx’s core values. He has operationalized his values so that his team follows specific behaviors that are observable and measurable. Core values, like Calyx’s, allow coworkers to trust, rely on and respect each other more. It allows your team to admit, accept, and learn from their failures instead of getting discouraged.
Vulnerability leads to innovation. Change and growth occur when talented people feel confident to stand up and state their opinion and challenge the system. Questioning everything only allows for answers that create more opportunity. When you create an environment where vulnerability is feared you do not allow space for growth.
By creating an environment where employees feel valued and part of the process, your team becomes more invested in solutions and more willing to contribute.
Your company is only as strong as the weakest member of the team. If your co-workers are nervous or upset, chances are others in the office are as well. This causes increased stress and decreases productivity.
When employees feel free to speak out about what is causing them worry, they can alleviate that worry simply by being vulnerable enough to articulate it. By decreasing stress in the office people perform and collaborate more effectively.