Being Vulnerable VS Leading With Vulnerability: One Hurts Your Career, The Other Skyrockets It

Jacob Morgan
3 min readSep 27, 2023


My new book Leading With Vulnerability is coming out in a week! Now is your last chance to get 6 months of my premium Substack articles and videos for free. Just grab a copy of the book and send proof of purchase to (screenshot is fine).

Brené Brown defines vulnerability as risk, uncertainty, and emotional exposure. In the context of working with other people, it’s usually doing or saying something that can expose you to the potential of emotional harm.

For example, you share that you made a mistake on something, your peer takes that information and uses it as a way to keep you from getting promoted.

In our personal lives we all know the value of vulnerability. It’s what allows us to create connection and develop strong relationships with friends and family members.

But what about at work?

Can you just show up to work each day and talk about your mistakes, challenges, emotions, and failures?

The relationship between an employee and employer is very simple. An organization has a job it needs to fill and you fill the job because you have the skills, capabilities, and talent to do the work.

So what happens when you show up to work each day talking about your failures, challenges, mistakes, and emotions?

At some point your leaders and peers are going to look at you and say “maybe this isn’t a good fit.”

Work is a different dynamic where we have hierarchy, bosses, employees, customers, projects, deadlines, and the issue of money. Furthermore, if you’re a leader that’s actually responsible for a team and the fiscal aspect of a business, vulnerability for you is not the same as it is for everyone else.

As I’ve written about before, the solution is to add leadership to the vulnerability.

Vulnerability alone can make you seem incompetent and leadership alone can make you seem like a robot which is why it’s so crucial to combine both.

However, simply being vulnerable can crush your career while leading with vulnerability can transform it and excel it.

Here are a few examples of being vulnerable vs being a vulnerable leader, which I define as :

A leader who intentionally opens themselves up to the potential of emotional harm while taking action (when possible) to create a positive outcome.

Leading With Vulnerability is all about demonstrating that you are trying to close the gap. Meaning you are trying to get better, learn, grow, develop, and become more competent. Vulnerability alone doesn’t accomplish that.

In any and every situation where vulnerability will be present, as yourself how you can add leadership to the equation. It will be the best thing you can do for your career.

I share amazing stories, insights, and research in my new book, Leading With Vulnerability.

You can grab a copy of the book here.



Jacob Morgan

4x Best-Selling Author, Speaker, & Futurist. Founder of Exploring Leadership, Employee Experience, & The Future of Work