THE BLOG

Take off the Corporate Kevlar

02/25/2015 04:30 pm ET | Updated Apr 27, 2015

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There is a general perception in business that vulnerability in any form automatically equals weakness. Think about it; when was the last time you allowed yourself to be, well, you, in a corporate or business environment? As leaders, we tend to automatically don a suit of protective armor that shouts to the world "I am the best, the strongest, because I am tough, and unyielding, and uncompromising, and I never fail! I have no weaknesses, none! And if you want to be on my team... you won't have any either!"

Here's a startling proposition.

What if we took the armor off and let our true selves show?

What if, just once, we allowed ourselves to be, in traditional parlance, weak?

Being honest and authentic as a leader is a strength. Yes, you are making yourself vulnerable -- but you are also willing to be open and show your true personality and colors. The flow-on is greater engagement not only with your team but with your clients or customers. Likewise, admitting failure; you can't get it right 100 percent of the time, but if failure comes as a result of passion, effort and striving for goals then don't you want those working with you to understand that the game is worth the candle? Weakness, or 'weakness', can be a collaborative tool in so many ways.

Use your own particular weakness or vulnerability as a business strength. Use it to drive your determination and focus. If you hate speaking out and engaging with others in person but find it easy on a virtual basis, for example, express this to those in your circle of excellence. Use that spirit of trust and collaboration to help you improve your confidence.

Weakness, or vulnerability, as a strength isn't a new concept. But the idea of making ourselves vulnerable seems to be one of the hardest business ideas for us to grasp. We spend so long learning the hard skills, that the thought of embracing the softer side of the suit is often almost unthinkable. However, to succeed in a truly collaborative commercial environment, we must accept our so-called weaknesses -- our abilities to be caring, to nurture, to actively listen, and to not only think outside the box, but to encourage our teams to think along with us.

Battles may be won by those wearing corporate Kevlar, but for long-term peace of commercial mind?

Shake off the fatigue(s). And try a little tenderness.