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Ditch The Alpha-Male: Showing a Vulnerable Side At Work Can Be a Better Key To Success

If you’re an alpha in the office, swapping the ‘gung-ho’ for a more honest and collaborative approach to management can lead to better, more fulfilling results all round, as self-help coaches Elaine Lo and Pet Sutton, AKA ‘Petlo’, explain in this exclusive article for B’Daily…

By Petlo

We’ve all met the ‘Alphas’ in the workplace: the gung-ho, can-do aggressive go-getters who have a tendency to overpromise results by substituting confidence for performance and who play down the real problems in the projects they manage.

Of course, there are times as a boss when it’s best to be self-assured, such as during a crisis, but if we have alpha tendencies then we might wonder why other people tend not to listen to us as much as we want, or why we might not seem to be as popular as we’d like.

We might, in fact, be wondering whether there is another approach that would help us get real buy-in and camaraderie from our co-workers?

The Value Of Vulnerability

True leadership also involves showing vulnerability. Otherwise, colleagues may well feel overshadowed by that domineering spirit of confidence and positivity, as well as undervalued and demotivated by a lack of recognition for their work.

It might also be worth factoring in the effect that ‘alpha-ness’ has on the millennial employee. Why? Because right now they are about 50% of the workforce and in ten years that rises to 75%. That means what they want in the workforce, what they truly value, is going to be significant in building and retaining a reliable, loyal, and competent workforce.

It turns out they want less alpha-like competition and a more collaborative approach to working, with leaders who inspire, not managers who cajole or bully. Over a third of millennials see leaders as personable and authentic – people who are approachable and real.

Employees value leaders and managers who role model these qualities and the ability to show vulnerability is a powerful way to signal we are genuinely looking to collaborate rather than dictate.

Vulnerability is an ideal trait for showing people in the workplace that we are both authentic and brave enough to admit when we are wrong, that we are human enough to make mistakes AND own up to them.

It suggests that we will share information, and that we will say when we don’t understand something and will ask for other people’s guidance. It indicates that our vulnerability will allow us to seek input from anyone who might be able to help, whether or not they are junior, less experienced, or have less status.

As our vulnerability allows us to get the best from other people, we are also building our own reputation as someone who is confident enough to ask for help and someone who is prepared to learn and grow based on the knowledge they reach out for.

How To Be Vulnerable

So, how can we actually do this – being vulnerable? When we take personal responsibility instead of conditional responsibility, we truly take control. This is where things happen. We act instead of re-acting. We own our mistakes and our successes with a dash of humility, as this excerpt from our new self-help guide, 8 Recipes for Life, explains:

Vulnerability is a paradox. When we are willing to be vulnerable, we become indestructible. People can’t attack us with our weaknesses if we have already owned up to them. When we are vulnerable, we become approachable and authentic. We become totally ourselves, which means we are the very best we can be at any point of time.

Vulnerability requires acceptance. When we accept our human imperfections, we are honest with ourselves. Then we can decide to progress and improve, to cultivate the qualities we see in other people that we want in ourselves. That is the way to advance – be happy with where we are, and work toward where we want to be [whether we’re a new employee or a seasoned leader in the business.]

There are three aspects of vulnerability. Embracing these will help us become that leader who inspires others:

Take The First Step The results of being vulnerable are never guaranteed. But even if there is a possibility our honesty will be misinterpreted, it is still better to be authentic – be ourselves and bravely take the first step. This could amount to owning up to a mistake or taking responsibility for an error or poor judgement we made.

The very first step is to admit this to yourself. If we can’t admit our shortcomings, we are not likely to share them with others. So start off by practising being vulnerable to yourself.

Take ownership of your shortcomings by coming up with a plan where you make the best recovery you can, either by harnessing your own efforts or those of someone who can help.

Put Aside Ego Vulnerability often has to do with the ego, which is always about ‘me’ – not wanting to lose face and wanting to look good. Ego is often involved in competition and winning at any cost. It most often occurs in a business setting where we believe we can only get what we want if the other party ‘loses’ in some way. The following might help us put aside our ego:

  • Consider whether you are open to partnership and collaboration. Could these tactics get you what you want to achieve?
  • Consider true win-win outcomes, where both parties benefit, whether it is with your team or with customers.
  • Look at situations from the other person’s perspective. This will give the insight which enables the construction of true win-win solutions.

Don’t Worry About Getting Hurt

The third aspect of vulnerability has to do with not wanting to be hurt. We have all screwed up our projects, or made the wrong decisions from time to time, but if we hold on to these failures when we are planning our next project, we are likely to make mistakes and de-motivate others around us.

The golden rule here is to acknowledge past mistakes and consequences, be determined to learn from them and move on.

Petlo have just published 8 Recipes for Life, a new self-help guide packed with practical wisdom for greater professional and personal life fulfilment. It is available now on Amazon UK priced £11.11. For more information visit www.petlo.co.uk.

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