Displaying Your Humanity has a Ripple Effect in the Workplace
I have been with Hummingbird Humanity for almost two years. First as a facilitator of trainings and now as the content manager. Before joining Hummingbird, I worked in education, public health, and advocacy. I have had some fantastic managers and others who left much to be desired. A key ingredient missing in both the good and bad of the managers I had was vulnerability.
I’m sure for leaders, it can be scary to be viewed as human. It can feel as if the curtain has been pulled down. To acknowledge you may not have all the answers, to admit that you can get things wrong, to let others know you might not be your best because something happened to you outside of work. It goes against all the rules we’ve been taught in the workplace. So, I understand why leaders are hesitant to show up as less than perfect in front of their employees.
It is a transformative experience for those around you when you, as a leader, show up and be seen for the human you are.
Working at Hummingbird is the first time I’ve been able to talk about my depression at work. I have been able to stop viewing my condition as an “excuse” and see it for what it is, a chronic mental health condition. In part because the leaders and team members at Hummingbird make space for all of us to be human first.
In the past, I would simply hide behind a facade and isolate and keep things bottled up. But, unfortunately, emotions have a funny way of seeping out in other ways. I would become reactive with colleagues. I would be silent in meetings and dread waking up knowing I had to paint a happy face from 9 to 5.
When leaders open up the dialogue about the things we deem less than desirable qualities yet are part of our humanity, it opens up communication lines for everyone they lead. When I can show up and say I am struggling, and that I may not be at my best today, or that I need grace, a beautiful thing happens:
I stop pretending.
I stop reacting.
I stop isolating.
I start connecting. I open myself up to receiving support. I wake up knowing I don’t have to lie to everyone around me to get through my day. I feel relief.
There is a ripple effect when we display our humanity. When I have space to speak up, I can also listen. When I receive support, I can give it to others. When I am given grace, I am inspired to practice it with everyone around me.
Vulnerability is no longer seen as a weakness (it never was) and is finally seen for what it is, an essential skill for leaders. A skill that: drives innovation, increases engagement, builds trust, retains talent, and fuels performance, to name a few.
Take a moment to reflect on how you connect with the people you lead and ask yourself, “has trust even been built without vulnerability?”
Consultant and Content Manager
he / they | LGBTQ+
JD Valladares-Williams (he/they) is a DEI Consultant, Instructional Designer, and Activist who helps small to large companies unpack conversations around historically excluded identities and equips them with tools to become agents of change.
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