A chance to be vulnerable

In the performance of our daily work, it’s not often that we get a chance to free ourselves from the role we play, the image that we present to others. Even if you work in the most relaxed work environment, we all play to roles that are expected of us.

As an individual contributor, we might strive to demonstrate competence, expertise, the ability to work productively with others, etc. As a leader, we may try to portray the image of a servant leader, helping others to be the best versions of themselves. Or we may aim to demonstrate gravitas and dominance, depending on what your leadership style is :-)

Psychological safety in teams is important. The opportunity to be wrong without negative consequences. But even with the best intentions and in the most psychologically safe work environment, there is an underlying set of social norms and roles at play. After all, we’re still at work. We’re still being paid. And we still have commitments to other people we work with.

Yesterday, I asked where you go to talk to other people in similar roles working in other organisations. I’ve been thinking a little more about what I’m trying to get out of these connections.

On the one hand, I’m looking to build a healthy professional network. What they say about networking being a powerful lever for your career is, unfortunately, completely true. But I still find overt networking events awkward.

The most rewarding relationships are the ones where I can throw off a lot of the pressure to perform a role. I can be vulnerable and honest about work and professional life. I’m lucky to have a small collection of good friends in the tech industry who I can talk to openly without much baggage at all.

This is not just about venting or letting off steam, but being able to discuss the things that really matter to you without concern about job status, reputation or public perceptions. This isn’t something I always need to do, but when I do need it, it’s great to know it’s there.

When do you get a chance to be vulnerable?

All the best,

– Jim

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