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Being a Leader Who Creates Safe Learning Spaces

What Happens When a Leader is Vulnerable?

Brené Brown defines vulnerability as “the emotion that we experience during times of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure” (In Dare To Lead, 2018). Upon first review of this definition, we may have the reaction of “why would I want to do that???” Vulnerability in conjunction with a growth mindset allows us as leaders to be open about our shortcomings and our desire to learn despite how uncomfortable we may feel. Too often I hear from leaders who feel that they must put on a face of “knowing it all.” This mentality actually works against us and puts our employees in a position of feeling like they need to put up a good front and not be willing to share that they may not know something.

In the first of two videos, I share a slice of my research on leaders with growth mindsets. I recorded this video for Rider University’s Center for the Development of Leadership Skills (CDLS) which strives to build leadership capacity in the Rider University community. In this short video, I spend a few minutes discussing leaders who create safe learning spaces with their employees, specifically by being vulnerable. You will hear the short story of a leader who purposefully failed in public to demonstrate their vulnerability to assist in creating the mindset of learning with their teams.

This level of vulnerability levels the playing field and helps employees feel safe in their work settings. Leaders who frame failing as an opportunity to learn tend to get the bad news sooner as these employees understand that that failing forward is the process by which we learn from our mistakes and continue to try again.

I hope you enjoy this short peak into my research! I will continue to share more of my research in the coming weeks. If you are anxious to learn more sooner, feel free to find some time for us to chat here.

Dr. Jamie Gairo shares her research for the Center for the Development of Leadership Skills at Rider University, Fall 2021

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