How to show weakness without being weak

The most effective way that you can build trust in your team is by sharing your weakness and how you are trying to overcome them. If you encourage your staff to share their professional development needs and opportunities with you YET you don't share with them, you are setting yourself up to be a bad leader.

I was talking to one of my clients about revealing her professional development goals to her staff and boss. She wasn't excited about revealing to her team how she was trying to work on her weaknesses, namely hiring me as her leadership coach. She isn't alone in her thinking. It doesn't make her a bad person. In fact, most people don't want to share their weaknesses with their team. This is faulty thinking.

Here's why. 

#1: You send the wrong message

As a leader, your job is to develop your talent to do their work most effectively. You usually ask your staff to set personal development goals and to share those with you so you are up to date what they are doing, how they are struggling, and how you can support them. Yet, if your staff NEVER sees you, their leader, doing the same thing, then you unconsciously communicate that "personal development is only necessary to get you into leadership and after that, you don't need it anymore. "

For most leaders, that is a phrase you would never say aloud because you know it is utterly ridiculous.  Personal and professional development is a need throughout a leaders' life time. So why not reinforce your commitment to personal development by sharing how you are developing yourself?

The most effective way that you can build trust in your team is by sharing your weakness and how you are trying to overcome it. Continual research has proven that team members respond to authentic open honest leadership. Too many people want to hide their flaws instead of sharing them strategically.

#2: They already know your weakness.

Your staff already knows your development needs. In fact, they probably know your development needs more than you do. They come in frequent contact with your "development needs". They complain to their spouses or friends about how your "development need" got on their nerves just yesterday. 

How to show weakness without being weak

Since you want to be a leader who sets the example of good leadership, I encourage my clients to share their weakness without being weak. The reason leaders don't want to show weakness is a fear and trust issue. You are asking your team to trust you  but you don't trust them. You are too afraid of how you'll look. 

It's time you let people see behind the curtain.

One leadership coach, Marshall Goldsmith says he does not get paid unless the key stakeholders say his client has shown significant improvement. The secret sauce behind Goldsmith's strategy is that the client chooses the stakeholders and they are involved from the beginning. It isn't  random and it isn't secretive. It is a strategic process.

The secret to showing weakness without being weak is inviting select group to witness your transformation. Imagine if your boss came to you and said, "You all have told me I am not great at listening. I hired a coach to help me with this. Would you mind if once a month, I ask you how I'm doing on not interrupting people in the office?"

His or her stock would dramatically rise. If your staff is coming to you with their weaknesses and you are leading them to develop plans and execute the plans to overcome their weaknesses then why wouldn't you share your plan to do the same with your staff?  Do you have to expose every single detail? No. Do you have to reveal personal issues about yourself? No. What you have to do is release the pride that says I can't show my weaknesses.

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