Should a leader expose their weaknesses?

Post date: Oct 26, 2016 2:39:08 PM

Hiding Mistakes

Do we try to hide our frailties and weaknesses from those we lead? Are we concerned that somehow exposing our weaknesses will cause those who are subordinate to us to lose faith and confidence in us?

Too often leaders hide their imperfections out of a misguided belief that failings will cause subordinates to think less of us. Leaders set the culture in an organisation. Banduras Social Learning theory speaks of how we model ourselves on people that gain our attention (our boss), retention of the information (whether the behaviour is easily remembered), reproduction (are we able to actual reproduce the behaviour), and motivation (the perceived rewards -pay off) for imitating the behaviour. If we hide decide to hide our faults, then our staff may also model this behaviour and hide their own faults. Costly mistakes can then occur and important lessons are not learnt!

If we discuss problems and difficulties with our subordinates we can engage them into problem solving activities. An important aspect to consider is to ensure that you instil confidence in your subordinates, and that you don’t become “undone” with these problems; rather model confidence in your joint ability to overcome these problems/difficulties. This will give the freedom for staff to admit when they make a mistake, and that the blame game isn’t adopted. As leaders, it is important that we value problem-solving activities amongst our staff; we want solutions and forward thinking rather than finding out who did it!

We need to speak to our staff like adults not children - all too often we seek to find the culprit, resulting in denial by the staff member, finger pointing, and blame shifting.