To be a real leader, you need to let your guard down to let your true self get out. That’s not easy for most people. Many at the top are used to being in control of every fact and figure. They equate making mistakes with weakness, especially when being scrutinized on camera.
In reality, showing our flaws can motivate people to listen more closely to what we have to say. Making mistakes, showing some emotion, or poking a little fun at ourselves can validate that we’re speaking from the heart instead of a script.
When Tribe’s Creative Director Vern Oakley is coaching leaders, he helps them transmute vulnerable feelings so they can use them more creatively. When leaders display anxiety, they can turn that feeling from “afraid” to “excited.” There’s nothing wrong or weak about embracing your vulnerability, especially on camera.
From Vern Oakley: Nobody Wants A Perfect CEO
One client was appearing on a video to explain a complicated corporate restructuring to her employees. She knew employees would wonder if the sea change would impact their jobs, and before we began to film she admitted to me that she didn’t have all the answers. She wanted to speak from the heart and show her concern about the welfare of her people.
This CEO took pride in being seen by her people as an authentic leader, and I reminded her of this. Why not just tell them (carefully, and with the approval of the communication and legal teams) the truth?
On video she did just that. She said she didn’t have all the answers yet (the truth), but when she got them her people would be the first to know (expressing care and concern). She said she was working with senior leadership to get answers as fast as possible (a promise that she eventually kept), and she gave them a date by which she’d have the answers.
This leader simultaneously showed vulnerability and respect for her people. By saying she was “on it,” a problem-solving phrase she was used to hearing from her staff, the CEO projected some humility too. She knew she’d shared a truth: She didn’t know everything. Building authenticity requires revealing some vulnerability and in the process—some courage.
Revealing Humanity Through Video Vulnerability
We all have anecdotes we can share in a measured and truthful way based on real experiences. Communicating these thoughts with others reveals our values and humanity and draws our audience closer.
Sharing vulnerability is a little scary, but feeling the fear and pushing ahead anyway pays off. With each video you make, each time you speak from the heart, your confidence on camera grows even if you stumble or fall now and then. And your story as a genuine, human leader continues to unfold.