In times of uncertainty showing vulnerability is the mark of a true leader


The world has always been uncertain.

Now perhaps it is more uncertain than ever before, not least in that new uses of technology are shifting the structure of society, business, and government, amplifying the manifold unknowns of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it might play out.

In the past many leaders sought a sense of control, and in relatively steady-state environments they were sometimes able to achieve that.

However for many years already, leaders who have not been comfortable with the reality of a lack of control in a highly complex world have been sidelined or found themselves presiding over rapidly shrinking organizations.

In times of deep uncertainty, and particularly when there is limited face-to-face interaction, effective organizations must be founded on trust.

Trust of leaders, trust of peers, trust that processes and systems are fair and will function as needed.

One of the most important drivers of trust is showing vulnerability, in publicly acknowledging that you don’t know, you’re not sure, you don’t have the answers, that decisions are difficult.

Pretending otherwise today would be ridiculous, and inevitably destroy trust.

Of course, people look to leaders who show strength and are able to show the way forward to positive possible futures.

Those who are the strongest are able to show their vulnerability, earning the trust to lead others through our intensely uncertain times.