How to use Vulnerability and Leadership to Connect with Your Team

How to use vulnerability to connect with your team team anywhere leadership podcast episode 14
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In episode 14 of the Team Anywhere Podcast, Mike Robbins talks about how to use vulnerability and leadership to connect with our team. Mike Robbins is the author of five books, including his brand new title, WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER: Creating a Team Culture of High Performance, Trust, and Belonging.  For the past 20 years, he’s been a sought-after speaker and consultant who delivers keynotes and seminars for some of the top organizations in the world. 

His clients include Google, Wells Fargo, Microsoft, Genentech, eBay, Harvard University, Gap, LinkedIn, the Oakland A’s, and many others.  

He and his work have been featured in the New York Times and the Harvard Business Review, as well as on NPR and ABC News.  He’s a regular contributor to Forbes, hosts his own podcast (called We’re All in This Together), and his books have been translated into 15 different languages.

How did the book, “We’re All in This Together” come to fruition?

Within weeks of releasing his recent book, Bring Your Whole Self to Work, Mike got an urgent feeling to write a new book. Despite the feedback encouraging him to not write a book (due to the time-commitment), Mike pushed to write his new book. Within three weeks of his book release, he began writing  We’re all in this together, which was released just before the pandemic hit. 

What is the book about?

The book, We’re All in This Together, explains how a culture of trust and belonging creates high performing teams. It explores how we find common ground and understand that although we all are in the same storm, we’re in different boats going through this experience. Finding common ground is about using vulnerability to connect with your team. 


With his book released this year, Mike’s message to leaders anywhere is that when you are getting a message, a gut feeling, an intuition, you should listen to it. It’s telling you something for a reason and we don’t always listen to it like we should.

How Has Mike Embraced his Authenticity as a Podcast Host?

As an audible learner and extrovert, the podcast process has helped Mike manage his own mental and emotional being. He’s noticed the more personal he gets, the more universally he connects with people. Because of this, he doesn’t shy away from asking the questions on his mind that seem vulnerable at first.  


 THE MORE PERSONAL, THE MORE UNIVERSAL. To become more authentic, leaders need to embrace the fear of sharing what’s really on their mind, and use their vulnerability to connect because it’s likely on someone else’s mind as well.

Leadership Changes Since the Pandemic

There’s this paradox leaders are experiencing through the pandemic which is that physically, we are more disconnected with each other than we’ve ever been. Yet, at the same time, we’re seeing inside each other’s lives on our video calls. We’re seeing parts of each other’s lives that we typically don’t see in the office. (The inside of people’s, houses, their pets, their kids). These video calls are allowing leaders to use vulnerability to connect with their team.

The Shift From Not Liking Video Calls to Appreciating them

Having to work from home since the pandemic has caused positive perspective changes in some areas. For Mike personally, one of those has been his liking of video calls. Before the pandemic, he didn’t really like video calls, but now he’s seen the extraordinary opportunity it’s provided us to make it through the pandemic.

Mike mentioned, “what if we went through this pandemic in the 70’s?” It’s really extraordinary the things we can do and the way we can do them right now. One perspective change in having video calls is that we can be thankful first that we have jobs where we can be at home and continue to work, and second that we have this amazing technology that is allowing us to do that as we make it through this pandemic. 

Are leaders embracing authenticity more since the pandemic?

Yes and no. Mike agrees that most people aren’t staying the same, but this has either caused leaders to go deeper in their authenticity, or the opposite. 

Vulnerability and Leadership through the Pandemic

Mike discusses Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and mentions it’s hard to be in a place of self-actualization when we’re in a pandemic and focused on survival.


Think about the needs your team needs. Some are focused on basic needs, while others are searching for belonging. How can you help fill those needs to connect with them?

Creating A Level Playing Field With A Dispersed Team

  • Leaders can increase collaboration by requiring all people to join the conference call, whether they’re in the office or remote for meetings which creates a level playing field and includes everyone. 
  • Seeing leaders on zoom calls in their houses has helped limit the “power distance” between leaders and their teams.

Vulnerability and Leadership Connects People

Taking risks is about “Who are you at your core?” Mike shares a story about how he’s really focused on who he is at the foundational level, at the core of who he is and how he can stay authentic to that. This has enabled him to take risks and make decisions based on his own level of authenticity, which can feel vulnerable at first, until you realize those personal things are on other people’s minds as well. 


The “what” changes and not the “why.” So what does that mean? Through the pandemic, if you’ve focused on who you are at your core you know that your “why” hasn’t changed, it’s what you are doing with that why that is pivoting. Use vulnerability to connect with your team and share your “why” with them. This pandemic feels like a long leadership retreat


Mike says he’s not someone who “presents” as a lonely person. So when he would experience it, he would deny that emotion. Happy, positive people feel lonely. If we deny or mute one emotion, we mute all of our emotions. “You can’t just turn off one emotion.” During this pandemic, he’s been focusing on allowing himself to feel vulnerable. Feelings are meant to be felt, whether we like them or not.


Learn more about vulnerability and leadership to connect with your team now.

Online Leadership Courses to Lead a Team From Anywhere:

Check out these online courses for remote leaders from the Team Anywhere Team.

How to Be an Effective Remote Manager | How to Build Virtual Accountability

Vulnerability and Leadership Quotes

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  • vulnerability to connect with Mike Robbins
  • vulnerability and leadership with Mike Robbins
  • vulnerability to connect with Mike Robbins
  • vulnerability and leadership

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This episode is brought to you by Marymount University, School of Business and Technology: innovative solutions up-skilling for the what’s next economy. Oyster Organizational Development dedicated to higher performance, business success, and leveraging team. And Wejungo designing customized talent acquisition solutions.

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