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Leaders Should Give Themselves Permission to Be Human

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Vulnerability isn’t always easy—especially in the workplace. It takes courage to put yourself out there in front of your colleagues, but it’s worth it. Giving yourself permission to be human is the secret to building trust with your team.

What does “permission to be human” mean?

Think about the human condition: we make mistakes, react emotionally, learn, and grow. All of this is natural and important to acknowledge in yourself and others. Because recognizing and learning from mistakes is an effective path to personal growth. When we instead pretend that we never make mistakes, that’s when our problems grow, not us. We can’t solve or learn from mistakes if we don’t give ourselves permission to be human first.

Permission to be human means being vulnerable with your team. That might involve acknowledging mistakes and apologizing for them. It might also mean forgiving others for their mistakes. Again, this process isn’t easy, but by opening up, you make a commitment to change. Changing the status quo to fix problems builds trust. Better still, it inspires your team members to follow suit and be vulnerable as well. Once your team can be vulnerable with one another, that’s when real problem solving happens.