11The 10 Vulnerability Signs

Not everyone expresses vulnerability in the same way nor does everyone find the same things to be vulnerable. We can be vulnerable during scary or big moments, such as receiving candid feedback from a trusted peer or when we need to let someone go because of performance issues. We can also be vulnerable every day with small moments, such as praising someone on a team, asking for help, or even listening to someone. Not every act of vulnerability needs to be large in scale and impact. Everyday vulnerability is what enables you to be vulnerable in those big moments when needed.

It's important to understand some of the most common signs or languages of vulnerability for leaders so we can identify them and then respond accordingly. The caveat for all of these is that the leader is genuine. Take asking for help as an example. There are a few ways this can be done. In one scenario, I can say something such as, “I'm really struggling with this project I'm working on and I could really use your help.” Or I can say, “Hey, I need you to do something for me because I'm not able to.” In both situations, I'm asking for help but you get the sense that in the first scenario I'm being genuine and vulnerable whereas in the second scenario I'm actually trying to create space and avoid vulnerability. How things are said and perceived makes a difference.

The second thing to keep in mind is that for each person some of these things may be more or less vulnerable. For ...

Get Leading with Vulnerability now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.