HomeFuture of WorkJacob Morgan: The future of work needs leaders with vulnerability

Jacob Morgan: The future of work needs leaders with vulnerability

  • 4 Min Read

Jacob Morgan joins the HRD Live Podcast to discuss the increasing need for vulnerability in an ever-changing work landscape. In this episode, we discuss the need for vulnerable leaders and the role HR must play in championing vulnerability both now and in the future.

Jacob Morgan: The future of work needs leaders with vulnerability

Positioning leaders as infallible, flawless, and without struggle does not make sense in a rapidly changing world. The future of work is as uncertain and complex as our current volatile work landscape and requires organizations to re-evaluate the role and nature of their leaders. HR and People leaders must now push against the stereotype of traditional leadership. Instead, they should position themselves and train fellow business leaders to embrace vulnerability.

Futurist and author Jacob Morgan is a strong advocate for leading with vulnerability. In the latest HRD Live Podcast episode, we discuss the need for vulnerable leaders and the role HR must play in championing vulnerability both now and in the future.

Why do we need vulnerable leaders?

Whether your organization is struggling with the tough business landscape, or thriving in ‘the new normal,’ all leaders are navigating a constantly changing landscape. Morgan argues this becomes impossible without ideas, advice, and recommendations from your people. By projecting an all-knowing aura of confidence, leaders will miss the advice and insights from employees working on the ground floor.

“If there’s one thing we all know, it’s that leaders today, and you could argue ever, don’t know everything.

“If you want to rely on the collective intelligence and wisdom of your people, [vulnerability] is the only way you’re going to be able to get that out of them.”

Without vulnerability, Morgan argues leaders risk creating organizations that stifle growth, engagement, innovation, and productivity: “You’re going to be doomed for failure.”

How can HR leaders facilitate vulnerability among company leadership?

Leading with vulnerability creates a working environment where HR leaders can engage in a closer relationship with their workforce. It gives employees the room to co-create strategy around the employee experience in a volatile work landscape. But HR leaders also have an obligation to facilitate leadership development and champion vulnerability across the business. “The best thing you can do is lead with example,” Morgan explains. “As with anything, if you want to encourage those around you to lead with vulnerability, it starts with you.”

Whilst companies expect their employees to be more innovative and challenge conventions, this is not possible if people do not feel safe to do so. Having surveyed over 14,000 employees across the world, at levels of seniority, Morgan reveals the biggest barrier to vulnerability:

“The number one response that we got back by far from everybody is ‘I don’t want to be perceived as being weak or incompetent.’ In other words, leaders, and employees across all levels, are not willing to talk about mistakes, failures, challenges, or anything that opens themselves up to emotional exposure. They’re worried that the people around them are going to think that they are not good enough.”

How to show vulnerability as an HR leader

Morgan also offers advice for HR leaders seeking to model vulnerability:

“If you want others to lead with vulnerability, it’s going to start with you as a leader. You are going to have to open up. You can certainly talk about your mistakes and failures and what you’ve learned from them, and you can talk about some of the challenges or struggles you’re facing and how you’re trying to overcome them.”

Listen to the full episode to hear Jacob Morgan’s full analysis of the need for vulnerable leaders and pioneering frameworks including the vulnerable leader equation and the vulnerability loop.


00:09 – Introduction

00:45 – How do you differentiate between being vulnerable and leading with vulnerability?

04:44 – How does vulnerability help HR leaders lead to navigate through this ongoing and tricky period of change?

07:21 – As we look to the future of work, when might vulnerability not be a good thing?

11:24 – As HR and people leaders, our audience will need to train fellow business leaders on the attributes of vulnerability. How can they teach people to lead with vulnerability?

12:47 – What barriers are there that might keep people from leading with vulnerability at work?

18:41 – Why bother to lead with vulnerability? There are plenty of leaders out there who don’t do this who appear to be quite successful!


Jacob Morgan is an international best-selling author, keynote speaker, and professionally trained futurist. Jacob’s work has been endorsed by the CEOs of Mastercard, Best Buy, Unilever, The Ritz Carlton, Nestle, Cisco, Audi, and many others. He has a popular podcast called Great Leadership With Jacob Morgan. Jacob lives in Los Angeles with his wife, two kids, and two Yorkie rescue dogs. He is releasing a fifth book, Leading With Vulnerability, in October.

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