Leadership isn't about being perfect. In fact, as a leader, it's important you don't expect perfection from yourself or your team. Often, to achieve this, you must lead by example, owning up to your mistakes and embracing your flaws as an important part of who you are.
"It is exceptionally rare to see leaders in the workplace allowing themselves to be vulnerable and share and accept their flaws," said Heather Monahan, founder of career mentoring group #BossinHeels and author of Confidence Creator (Boss in Heels, 2018). "Mastering this strategy starts with baby steps that will yield very real and tangible results … If creating a culture of transparency, authenticity and trust is important to you, it is time to own your mistakes and flaws, and do it with pride."
Here are four reasons why accepting your flaws will make you a better leader.
1. You'll empower others.
You don't need to always be put-together and positive to inspire someone. In fact, inspiration often is rooted in adversity and blooms by way of passion and perseverance. In other words, baring your scars and embracing your faults encourages others to do the same; and this will build a culture of self-love and acceptance.
"The more you can embrace who you really are and own your flaws, the more you are going to empower your team to do the same," said Monahan. "If you are spending your time hiding the real you, that is exactly what you will get in return from your employees."
You wouldn't want your workers to hold back out of fear or shame for their imperfections, so you shouldn't either. As the leader, you must be the one to push these boundaries.
"No one will ever perform their best or be willing to take chances if they don’t believe that errors and failure are an acceptable part of company culture, and that starts with the leader," Monahan told business.com.
2. You'll appear more genuine and relatable.
Monahan said that being open about your downfalls will invite others to view you as a real person, which will ultimately make them feel more comfortable working for you.
"When you take the chance to share your flaws, you make yourself so much more relatable to everyone around you," Monahan said.
This will encourage open communication and better connections between workers and management, rather than breeding tense relationships and timid employees.
3. You'll build trust.
No one is perfect, and portraying yourself as such will only create a wedge between you and your team. Your employees won't be as comfortable confiding in you or admitting to their mistakes, which can have detrimental consequences.
"If you don't show vulnerability, your own team won't feel like they will be able to approach you as a sounding board if they are having issues or struggles," said Adam Trouncer, CEO of Athletic Greens.
As a leader, you should motivate, not intimidate. It's crucial that your employees can count on you to not only accept their faults, but support them through any adversity. You can achieve this by unmasking your own shortcomings and working with theirs.
"Your personal vulnerability creates greater trust with your direct reports, and allows others to be comfortable in accepting their own strengths and weaknesses," said Trouncer.
4. You'll become more self-aware.
Self-awareness is critical in the workplace, especially in a leadership role. Knowing your flaws helps you understand your blind spots, said Trouncer.
"By having this self-awareness, you are then able to build a team that complements you and your own skill set and ensures the organization as a whole has the skills required to succeed," he added.
Be painfully self-aware. Share your findings. Welcome risks and slipups. Your main focus should be to nurture a mindful atmosphere that works together, not apart.
There are many mistakes that leaders tend to make. MindTools lists the flaws below as some of the most common:
- Failing to give feedback. Your employees do not know what they are doing wrong until you give them feedback to let them know. You are not giving your employees the chance to improve their behavior or productivity. You should provide regular feedback, negative and positive, to your employees so they have a clear understanding of how they are doing.
- Not giving your employees enough of your time. Leaders can get lost in their work and shut themselves off from their team. As a leader, you have many items you need to complete, but your employees must take priority. When employees feel like their leaders are not available, they may not feel supported. Check in and interact with your employees. Ask them about the projects they are working. Be an active listener, and let your employees know that they can always come to you with questions and concerns.
- Not clearly defining your team's goals. When employees do not have a concept of what they are trying to achieve, they have no clue if they are doing the right thing. They are not able to prioritize the work they need to accomplish. The result is that employees tend to misunderstand what they are supposed to be doing.