Being vulnerable is one of the hardest things to do in today’s world—largely due to the fear of being looked down on, judged or viewed as weak. People may not naturally connect vulnerability with business, but they can and should be complementary—and this all starts with the leaders. While vulnerability can take on many shapes and forms, in business, it goes beyond simply sharing personal emotion.
I try to demonstrate this daily in all areas of my life. Being willing to be vulnerable became a regular practice after publicly sharing personal details of my mental health journey in 2019—I was formally diagnosed with depression in my early 20s—and now this has led to TITLE Boxing Club being a purpose-driven brand with an annual charity campaign.
Today, vulnerability is woven into TITLE Boxing Club’s systemwide efforts from the top-down, and has become a part of our core principles. Below are insights and benefits we’ve seen first-hand on the value a vulnerable C-Suite can have for any brand, regardless of industry.
Trust is the base of the pyramid and lays the foundation that all relationships are built on and strengthened through. But it also plays a huge role in a company’s overall success.
People trust authentic people, and having a leader who is open with the company on a personal level will reassure employees that they are valued within the company. A welcoming, trusting environment also allows for the staff to feel they can be as equally open as the C-Suite is. As senior leaders of TITLE Boxing Club, we consistently ask one another where trust is present and where it is not. Determine this in your companies and what steps can be taken to build it.
Embracing the vulnerability that every person naturally possesses breeds an opportunity for the entirety of a company to build trust with their C-Suite and fellow colleagues. Leaders who allow themselves to open up can lead to people wanting to work for them and most importantly, feel comfortable working with them.
Garners Strong-Performing Results
After sharing my story, TITLE Boxing Club and BoxUnion rallied around me and we initiated our Knockout Stigma Campaign which aims to spread awareness on mental health and break the stigmas surrounding it.
When a brand is able to be vulnerable in this regard, it opens the door for employees to participate in the initiative and become more motivated to deliver.
Of course the end goal for any company is to be successful—and a vulnerable C-Suite is one tactic to help make this happen. When you create a level of openness throughout the company, employees will feel more connected to and have a clearer vision of the brand’s goals. This leaves little room for misinterpretation of the actions that need to be taken to achieve consistent, high-performing results.
Another crucial part of this bucket are leaders who are able to admit that they don’t know everything or always have a solution. In fact, this could prove to be more productive or efficient as it leaves room for collaboration and insight from employees.
Fuels Consistent Accountability
The senior leadership team should hold each other accountable to commitments being made for the brand and system, but take this a step further by leaning into your employees. When they have a clear understanding of the company goals as a result of practicing vulnerability, they can play a role in ensuring it’s achieved. Don’t be afraid to give this level of responsibility to your employees so they can help hold you accountable on your commitments.
The accountability factor is so important because it also fuels the C-Suite to perform at a higher standard—when they know they have people relying on them, they are motivated to execute the brand’s goals, mission and vision.
As an evergreen effort, TITLE Boxing Club holds bi-monthly meetings to discuss this and evaluate where there may be room for improvements. Find what your equivalent is—perhaps it is as simple as actively asking the leadership team how effective you are in holding each other accountable.
Encourages a Safe Workplace
When leaders demonstrate vulnerability, it encourages those around them to do the same while increasing their comfortability in doing so. Make it a priority to create a safe place to be open in an environment where, historically, people needed to present their most professional selves, which didn’t include personal matters.
At TITLE Boxing Club, we actively work to ensure each club is a place for members, staff and franchise partners to bring their personal stressors and leave it on a heavy bag.
Being vulnerable with people you may not know as well as your family and friends takes courage and confidence. In creating a safe workplace, you encourage employees to feel comfortable being their true, authentic selves and help remove any fear they may have in sharing their personal stories.
Embracing vulnerability within a C-Suite can bring a number of favorable outcomes, from building essential trust throughout to company to reaching goals to creating a safe open company culture that is reflected within each brick-and-mortar. Some of the greatest leaders have allowed themselves to open up, shown their vulnerability and transformed into the kind of modern leader that is needed in today’s era.