Leaders often struggle to find authenticity. New research has found that one reason is that they often choose to present their strengths and deliberately avoid revealing their weaknesses. A group of researchers asked leaders of various organizations to write down how they would introduce themselves to future workers. Most leaders only reveal their strengths. This is a mistake. Revealing personal failings – as long as they are not serious personal shortcomings – makes leaders appear authentic and creates goodwill and trust.
In the late 1980s, Canon ran a commercial with professional tennis player Andre Agassi. launched a bad slogan: Image Is Everything. For years leaders of all stripes have embraced that sentiment, doing everything they can to appear powerful, strong, and flawless. However, recently RESEARCH REVEALS found that effective leadership is not about constant perfection, but about honesty. When followers believe their leaders are acting as their true selves, they experience greater well-being, trust the organization more, perform better, work harder, and make more ethical decisions.
However, shedding the “Image Is Everything” mindset is difficult, and leaders often struggle to find the truth. Our research found that one reason leaders struggle is because they often choose to present their strengths and deliberately avoid revealing their weaknesses. We saw this play out in a pilot study when we asked leaders of various organizations to write down how they would introduce themselves to prospective workers. Most leaders only reveal their strengths. Rarely does anyone talk about their weaknesses, usually worried that sharing a weakness will damage their image.
In contrast, our research shows that self-disclosure of leaders’ weaknesses can enhance perceptions of credibility, meaning that many leaders miss the opportunity to develop relationships with their workers if they choose to be exclusive. to talk about their strengths. We found that disclosing weaknesses increased perceived authenticity for both male and female leaders, yielding benefits regardless of gender. Furthermore, the higher the status of the discloser, the stronger the positive results. It’s important not only that you share your true self, but that you do so when you have a lot at stake.
As an initial test of this idea, we conducted a series of vignette studies in which we experimentally varied whether or not the leader did or did not disclose a weakness, such as poor communication. public or struggling to keep up with current technologies. Consistently, our results show that when leaders reveal their weaknesses, they are perceived as more authentic but less competent or warm. Sharing mistakes, therefore, resulted in benefits without obvious drawbacks. But importantly, we are not saying that leaders are necessary often share their deepest and darkest secrets. We found that these benefits of self-disclosure of weaknesses are limited only to relevant human weaknesses — they do not hold for the disclosure of serious defects, such as panic attacks in a speech. And they may not hold offenses, such as an employee being rude or behaving badly.
To see how sharing weaknesses is for leaders in a more realistic setting, we asked a Google executive to give a speech and reveal a weakness to prospective employees. We recorded his speech and then edited the video to create two clips: in experiment condition we include self-disclosed weakness, and in control condition we skip it. We then randomly assigned working professionals to watch one of the two clips and evaluate the authenticity of the executive. When the executive reveals a weakness, workers believe he is more genuine, even after controlling for perceived competence and warmth.
We then in a series of studies asked what people thought about the revealer’s motives in giving the speech, people who saw the speech that nothing include a personal weakness thinking that the leader is motivated by strategic self-presentation – he wants to come out of the speech looking good. Those who reached the speech that done reveals a personal weakness, however, it is explained that the executive does not filter information, does not act strategically, and is therefore true.
Importantly, merely exposing a weakness is not enough for a leader to appear authentic: they must expose the weakness. VOLUNTARY. When making inferences about a person, observers consider intentions. Therefore, if a leader has a weakness because they are needed or “caught,” the intention is mud.
from previous job, we know that people often make guesses about what motivates others’ behavior and make judgments based on those guesses. And in subsequent studies, we found that prospective employees were more interested in continuing to work with their manager and transferred more money to the manager in a trust game when that manager revealed a weakness, telling us that reliability earns cooperation.
Moving forward, we hope leaders will understand that sometimes it can be beneficial to shift their thinking from “Image Is Everything” to “Authenticity Is King.” Trying to maintain a perfect, stable image can lead others to believe that you are only showing a narrow “sample” of your true self. Opening yourself up to sharing vulnerability with people, relatable mistakes in turn leads people to see you as an honest and trustworthy leader.