As previously stated, I believe that true innovation comes from questioning - questioning assumptions, capacity and ability. And as manager, you need to lead by example and ask the questions of yourself that you have asked of others on your team. What assumptions do I need to challenge? What skills do I need to harness to not only get the job done but to motivate others as well? How can I think outside the box? How can I be both innovative and strategic and how can I coach and inspire others to do the same?
By asking yourself these questions, you are also putting yourself in a position to be vulnerable. And by vulnerable, I don’t mean in a position to be taken advantage of. In fact, I mean just the opposite. Leading through vulnerability means that you are willing (and have the courage) to take a 360-degree view of yourself in order to decide what work you need to do to help get your team across the finish line.
The payoff of leading through vulnerability is that it not only allows you to have what it takes to bring about innovation but what your willingness to be vulnerable signifies to your team. It shows an openness, a collaborative nature, a demeanor that is relatable and honest, and a demonstrated commitment to walking the walk and talking the talk - skills that are invaluable no matter what challenges your company is facing.
Finally, a willingness to be vulnerable is more than leading through innovation. It is about leading through it all. I believe that vulnerability, is a key trait of a transformational leader - a leader that I think we all aspire to be. As a transformational leader, your success (and that of your team) comes from your ability to connect and motivate others. And nothing is more powerful, more inspiring or makes a connection more meaningful than allowing yourself to be “seen” by your team members.
PS: if you want to read more about vulnerability and how it impacts leadership, I recommend this wildly popular (4 million plus views) Ted Talk by Brene Brown.