What does it mean to ‘Remove the mask’?

Removing the mask is a statement that refers to becoming more transparent and vulnerable as if you’re taking away a layer and becoming more open. This may be a topic that has often been seen as taboo in the workplace, as for the longest time the workplace was a place where you just got on with it - “the show must go on” as they say. But with the subject of mental health becoming far more important, and businesses implementing workplace wellbeing practices, does the show really always have to go on?

Workplace wellbeing is a key factor in running a successful business, with happy employees, so encouraging open conversation and removing the mask in your workplace, could be something that helps skyrocket your business.

Running a successful business comes hand in hand with being a good leader, and being a good leader doesn’t just mean you know how to manage your staff, it means that your staff trust you. Authenticity is key in leadership and opening up conversations around problems and not denying their existence can help you become an inspiring leader.

Vulnerability is often associated with feelings of weakness and shame, when in fact it should be viewed as the opposite. The words ‘vulnerable’ and ‘leader’ almost seem like they shouldn’t fit together, however vulnerability in fact reflects bravery and courage - and this is being recognised more and more. A truly good leader isn’t afraid to admit that they don’t know everything, or that they sometimes make mistakes, and this will prove to be relatable and a great way of building up a bond with your team. With this relatability grows trust, allowing your employees to speak up on issues, and feel more comfortable around you, which will, in turn, reap benefits for you and your business.

So, what are the benefits of ‘removing the mask’?

Showing honesty and rawness can really open up authentic conversations that really matter and have a sense of realness surrounding them. A Leadership IQ study found that amongst 21,008 employees, only 20% stated that their leader openly discusses the challenges they are facing and 21% say that their leader never talks about challenges.

People are far more likely to work harder and more responsively to a leader that they respect and trust rather than someone who they may find intimidating - of that they feel doesn’t respect their needs. Especially during the current climate in regards to COVID-19, it is clear that nobody has the answers to everything and it is important to convey this to your employees. The circumstances surrounding COVID-19 are unprecedented and the fact that nobody has the answers contributed to a rise in leaders showing vulnerability in the past few years. Even the most senior leaders were forced to become vulnerable and had to figure out issues that had not been dealt with before. Many offices were forced to work from home, and we can’t forget the time that furlough was a thing, which was probably something that most leaders haven’t dealt with before - many employees had questions, and not all employers had the answers. This stage opened up an understanding between both the employer and employee and is something we hope to see continue.

1. Problems Are Solved Faster

When employees feel like they are able to be open about issues, and feel like they can speak more freely with each other and their employer, it creates better teamwork - leading to quicker problem-solving. Typically, if you are in an environment where you feel judged, or like you can’t speak freely you are less likely to ask questions, even when you might need to. Having transparent relationships with your team allows you to ask questions, work together, and get the job done quicker, and to a high standard.

2. Teams Are Built Easier

Transparency is a powerful tool you can use to unify your team - as with the above benefit it forces a team to work smarter together. Team building using transparency will take shape when the leader of a team can openly discuss what they believe are the strengths and weaknesses of the team. This tactic allows everyone to openly share their perspectives and opinions – creating a platform where the leaders can begin to strategically match people to handle certain roles and responsibilities, based on specific performance requirements and experience.

3. Relationships Grow Authentically

Transparency and vulnerability in the workplace encourage people to grow more understanding relationships with their coworkers, allowing relationships to mature faster - creating a stronger bond in the group. Openness can potentially avoid misunderstandings that can fuel unnecessary tension which makes for great working relationships.

4. Higher-Levels of Performance Emerge

Efficient problem solving + an easily built team with authentic relationships = high levels of performance

It really is that simple. By increasing the transparency, and removing the mask in the workplace, you open up far more opportunities for a successful working team.

The Great British Workplace Wellbeing Awards sessions will dive deeper into the subject of vulnerability as a leader amongst other topics - taking place on Wednesday 2nd March 2022.

10:50-11:30 - Does the show always have to go on? Removing the mask 

Speakers include:

Sarah McIntosh | Director of Delivery, MHFA England

Lynda Holt MA, RGN, DipHE, CPBP, FinstLM, FRSA | CEO, Health Service 360

Garry Mansell | Entrepreneur and Investor, Speaker and Author

Removing the Mask wellbeing session