While most leaders are focused on strength, I realized that vulnerability was just as important.Written by a young CEO (name withheld)

It’s tough being the one of the prime decision makers of the company. Everyday, I have to negotiate between my head and heart, people and company, myself and everything else. It’s an almost impossible balancing act where I have to juggle and manage several things at the same time. Consequences for making the wrong decision are severe, and irreparable. Many a night I’ve spent tossing unable to sleep well, constantly bothered by thoughts of fear, failure, and a broken legacy.

But come the following day, I have to put on that brave face again in front of my colleagues. I have to be that stern boss who is unafraid of anything — an epitome of a leader. I have to wear the intelligent glasses, put on my suit of decisiveness, wear my tie of fearlessness, and walk in my shoes of integrity. As CEO, I have to create strategies and tactics that make the company efficient, grow the people, and serve the clients and shareholders.

I’m writing to you now because I recently discovered something.

While most leaders are focused on strength, I realized that vulnerability was just as important.

After a series of some poorly made insights and decisions (I’m not going to get into the specifics of that), I was feeling upset about myself and my team. It was because of this that I called a “drop everything else” meeting. One morning, I assembled 8 of the top management staff that I was currently handling, and we turned it into a closed door meeting.

The meeting started with evident tension in the air. There was a huge elephant in the room, and it was making it so difficult to breathe. I knew that people were worried if I was going to throw a fit, or if I was going to murder someone. I could have.

But I said something else. I don’t really know what came over me. I took a deep breath and just said:

“These past few weeks have been rough for the company, in so many aspects. And I want to apologize to you all, because this is my fault.”

This was the first time I showed any vulnerability as a CEO. I was shocked at myself for saying such a thing, but I always knew it had to be said. I felt a tingle of fear down my spine. Maybe I shouldn’t have shown weakness? Should I have just gone with the straightforward powerful approach.

That immediately blew all the tension out the window. I immediately felt the support of my managers. And it wasn’t a feigned show of support just to tell me words I want to hear. I started hearing concrete ideas and strategies that can help make up for the previous bad decisions. I felt the team connecting to me. I know that they respect me, but this was a different kind of connection. It felt genuine, and enriching. The meeting that started out on wobbly legs ended with everyone fired up and ready to make things greater. Rather than be downcast with all of the burdens we were carrying, we ended with optimism and a positive attitude going forwards.

Weeks passed, and the company experienced amazing growth. Customers and employees were happy, results were high, and more of the team got closer than ever. I was ecstatic. The managers were doing well in rallying their respective teams, and it was translating to evident improvements. I ran into one of the managers one time on the elevator, and I congratulated her on the wonderful performance of her team.

She gave me a feedback — and I rarely get these from my peers, I’m not really sure why — on how all of the improvements of the team were started by my apology. She said, “Sir, I think more than anything, that you showed us that you can be empathethic, humble, and open. And who wouldn’t want to be lead by someone like that?” I stood there a bit speechless, and a whole lot of bashful, because that wasn’t really my intention. She continued by saying that my words showed that I had emotions, and although emotions can be heavy and unpleasant at times, they can also be used to fuel a lot of actions. My show of emotions fueled the team, and that makes me proud.

Some leaders use coercion and force to lead. Some use diplomacy, or democracy.

And some can use emotions. For teams, or depending on your team, I think emotion is the best key. No leader is perfect, but if you know where you’re weak at, and you have the team connected and supportive of you, then I guess you won’t have to be.

For more info on how you can use emotions to get your team together towards higher results, contact World Stage at (02) 275 – 2090, or connect with us at