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Six Practical Ways for Managers to Embrace Vulnerability (TRN4-J19)


This job aid describes six practical approaches that can help managers to embrace vulnerability as a strength in leadership.

Published: June 15, 2022
Type: Job aid

Download as PDF (325 KB)

Six Practical Ways for Managers to Embrace Vulnerability

Vulnerability as a Strength in Leadership

For best-selling authors Brené Brown and Simon Sinek, vulnerability is a strength in leadership. Showing vulnerability demands courage, and while this may feel counterintuitive to a traditional understanding of leadership, it can build human connection, authenticity and trust.

The Canada School of Public Service invites managers to explore the powerful idea of vulnerability in leadership. This quick reference tool will help you discover practical approaches to embrace vulnerability and develop as a leader.

Great leaders don't see themselves as great.
Great leaders see themselves as human.

  1. 360° Feedback

    Regularly seek honest feedback (formally or informally) from superiors, peers, and direct reports.

    Discuss your current weaknesses, and your plans to address them.

  2. Team Pulse Surveys

    Frequent pulse checks can help you discover how team members are feeling, where they are struggling and what supports they need.

    Discuss results with the team and pursue solutions.

  3. Share Airtime

    Great leaders are great communicators who listen actively to others.

    Give others the opportunity to share their ideas, thoughts and concerns – you will learn something new.

  4. Reverse Mentoring

    You cannot be an expert in everything, but there is a lot of expertise on your team.

    Seek opportunities to learn from junior team members who have recent or specialized knowledge.

  5. Wallet Card

    Intellectual humility means respecting other views, letting go of ego, and always considering you could be mistaken.

    Use a wallet card or other method to serve as a friendly reminder to yourself.

  6. Psychological Safety

    Employees should be free to be who they are, without fear of negative consequences.

    Invite and support others to share their ideas, express uncertainty, ask for help, or admit to struggles – be a role model.

    See also: Vulnerability as a Strength in Leadership: Six Practical Ways for Teams to Embrace Vulnerability


Want to learn more? Consult the School's learning catalogue.

360° Feedback
Explore our leadership offerings, as well as the services of the Personnel Psychology Centre.
Keywords: 360° feedback; evaluation; performance
Team Pulse Surveys
Check out our job aids for teams who want to design and implement their own pulse surveys.
Keywords: pulse surveys; engagement; workplace wellness
Share Airtime
Look for quick reference tools to learn about active listening and how to better communicate with others.
Keywords: communication; active listening; facilitation
Reverse Mentoring
Discover learning offerings that support mentors and protégés alike.
Keywords: e-mentoring; coaching; growth mindset
Wallet Card
Read the work of Warren Berger, Robert Richard and other experts in this field (online).
Keywords: intellectual humility; self-reflection
Psychological Safety
Look for online courses and job aids that assist managers in addressing psychosocial risks and creating a psychologically healthy workplace.
Keywords: mental health; psychosocial risk factors

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