9 Seemingly-weak behaviours that define great leaders

I don’t believe that what we often label as “weaknesses” is correct. Some of them are actually great signs of leadership. When I speak and coach leaders, they tell me openly that they don’t want to show some specific behaviors because they think they might look weak in front of their people.  In retrospect, these behaviors are way better than they think for inspiring, motivating, and engaging employees. Let’s have a look at them:

1. Saying sorry

Many leaders struggle to say sorry and end up blaming others.  Be extremely open and transparent. We’re humans, we’re leaders, but we’re not invincible. So saying sorry, in my personal view is an incredible sign of leadership. It also helps build relationships with people. So next time, why not say: “I’m sorry, I made a mistake. Let me help you. Let me make it for you” 

2. Admitting that you are wrong

Admitting we’re wrong means that we as leaders can make mistakes and bad decisions. But for a simple reason. Because we don’t have all the answers.  Sometimes we assume that leaders (in particular CEOs) know everything. They must be able to give the answer we need. But here’s the problem. During this period of uncertainty, CEOs have to make decisions very fast without having all the information handy. Admitting you are wrong is an incredible sign of vulnerability which is often missing in the corporate world.

3. Asking for help

As just mentioned, it’s clear that leaders don’t have all the answers.  What is less evident is that they would like to ask for help but don’t have always the courage to do it. In other words, they’re silently asking for help.  I can assure you they want to get your ideas, they want to get help, and get reassured. But if they don’t ask, why don’t you step forward and ask to help? Remember, they might have the perception that asking for help is a weakness. 

4. Changing your mind

Changing ideas is normal. It doesn’t make you weak. Just because you’re a leader and have a status, ego, and position to protect doesn’t mean that you should keep doing something wrong. When leaders change their minds is likely because they learned how to listen intentionally which is, again, leadership.

5. Asking to be challenged

Following #4, great leaders don’t have any problem with being challenged.  They look for this. When they’re not sure about a decision or a direction they’re taking, they ask to be challenged. Not surprisingly, they surround themselves with people who can do that and are willing to help. Not by saying “yes man”, but by helping the leaders see things from different perspectives, no matter if bad news need to be said.

6. Saying yes to someone else’s idea

Accepting someone else’s idea doesn’t make you weak.  If you ask to be challenged, listen well, and don’t isolate yourself, you’ll receive wonderful input from people to solve problems. Not just that. The level of engagement and motivation skyrockets because people love being heard and appreciated. Imagine when they see their ideas become something bigger… Remember, the origin of a good idea is irrelevant.

7. Hiring a coach

Let’s clear the air. Coaching is not fixing. It’s enhancing.  It’s empowering people to go to another level, get better ideas, generate insights, and get things done. Not surprisingly, I’ve never met a great leader who never worked with a coach. Great leaders push their boundaries and a coach can be a good way to make this happen.

8. Being open and vulnerable with employees

Being yourself at work is not a weakness. It’s a beautiful way to create better relationships. Be transparent, and open to sharing a bit of your life, including personal stories, struggles, goals, and aspirations. I strongly believe that it’s critical to show who you are and your personality. Again, you’re not a robot. People want to see that you’re human and you’re like them. If you’re vulnerable, people will be too. Don’t expect others to open up if you don’t do it first.

9. Sharing your failures

Sharing your failures could be one of the most powerful things you can do at work. Here’s the thing. Many leaders spend most of their time speaking about their successes and not enough about their failures. But failures are more interesting for people, not because they’re insightful lessons to be learned, but also because you would create a better bonding. The more failures you share, the easier to take risks will be for them. Being stuck in our own misconceptions is dangerous. It can prevent us from being more effective as a leader.  Let’s reframe them. Listen to the podcast related to this article: https://www.andreapetrone.com/9-seemingly-weak-behaviours-that-define-great-leaders-podcast/

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