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  • Writer's pictureMeghan Kirkland

How can leaders make vulnerability safe?

"๐๐ž ๐š๐ฎ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐ข๐œ.. ๐›๐ž ๐ฏ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ง๐ž๐ซ๐š๐›๐ฅ๐ž.. ๐›๐ž ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ."ย 


We often hear these phrases when it comes to work, but itโ€™s not always so simple. Sometimes, the cultures we create do not facilitate this being safe for everyone in the organisation.ย 


Research suggests that feeling authentic at work is associated with higher levels of well-being and a stronger sense of belonging. When people can't be themselves, they often leave to seek safer work environments. Constantly managing one's image can be exhausting and adds to an already heavy cognitive load.ย 


๐’๐จ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐›๐ข๐  ๐ช๐ฎ๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง- ๐ฐ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐œ๐š๐ง ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐๐จ ๐š๐ฌ ๐š ๐ฅ๐ž๐š๐๐ž๐ซ ๐ญ๐จ ๐œ๐ซ๐ž๐š๐ญ๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐ž๐ง๐ฏ๐ข๐ซ๐จ๐ง๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ?ย 


Jamie Woolfย in this interesting & practical HBR article offers up some practical examples from Pixar- some top examples:


1๏ธโƒฃ Leaders consistently reflecting on biases before meetings and interviews.

2๏ธโƒฃ A Mutual Mentorship Programme with meaningful questions to help mentors understand other experiences in the organisation, develop trust and intimacy, and heighten awareness of power dynamics.

3๏ธโƒฃ A building of โ€œtrust mapsโ€ where 500 people leaders mapped out their key networks- including those they mentored, sought advice from, socialised with, and spent the most time with on their teams. By doing this exercise, leaders often saw their networks lacked diversity in age, ethnicity, gender, and organisational level. They then focussed on diversifying their networks over a 6-month period.


Building psychological safety is essential for everyone in the organisation, not just a select few. When people feel safe to be vulnerable and authentic, the whole organisation benefits!ย 


We've done some work around this lately- if you are interested in learning more or want to think about how to build it in your organisation, feel free to reach out toย Rike Steinย or myself.ย 




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