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3 Ways Leaders Can Build Vulnerability-Based Trust

By Patrick Lencioni

Trust lies at the heart of a great team, and a leader must set the stage for that trust by being genuinely vulnerable with his or her team members. Here are three things that leaders do to demonstrate sincere vulnerability:

1. Share failure stories with employees.

When leaders openly share their stories of failure with the people they manage, it does two things: gives employees permission to make mistakes, and presents the leader as a fully human, imperfect person. When leaders always portray themselves as successful and competent, employees hesitate to trust them as people.

2. Celebrate an employee’s superiority.

When leaders admit that one of their employees has a trait that exceeds their own, and one that they wish they had, it demonstrates humility and vulnerability in a powerful way. Nothing builds trust like a leader admiring a subordinate.

3. Let an employee teach them.

When leaders allow an employee to teach them something meaningful, it demonstrates humility and gives the employee a sense of importance. By putting themselves, genuinely, into the role of being a student, leaders can earn the trust of an employee who will appreciate their vulnerability.