“Feeling happier and more connected” is probably not the language most would use when asked what they need from their colleagues. But, believe it or not,  this is quickly becoming the key to being able to achieve goals and outperform other teams.

Being truly happy and connected means you understand each other, feel safe to be who you are, have one another’s back, and experience joy when collaborating. Sound idyllic?

Unfortunately, in our fast-paced business world, this connection among team members doesn’t happen nearly as much as it should. Why isn’t it more common if the results speak for themselves? Because it requires time, effort, and one more very important thing: vulnerability.

Historically, being vulnerable at work hasn’t been considered professional. In fact, decades ago, it was important to do the opposite-;hide who you are and blend in with the masses. This kind of cultural norm was the result of a top-down leadership approach, in which the higher-ups came up with the ideas, then handed them down to others to execute. In our modern world, though, ideas come from everyone. In fact, in order to keep up with the kind of change, innovation, and competitiveness the business world currently requires-;they have to. New behaviors and norms are needed to yield better results.

So, what exactly is vulnerability? Dr.Brene Brown, TEDx speaker, author, and host of the upcoming Netflix special “The Call to Courage,” defines it as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” She also says that “vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity.” In other words, the very building blocks of amazing relationships.

When a team can be vulnerable with each other, deep connections are formed, and the result is feeling happier and more productive. You ultimately have a sense of calm and peace about your work environment and relationship with your peers-;which enables you to do your best work. 

So, how do you go about being more vulnerable with your team? Here are a few tactics to explore:

1. Share Stories

Set up a monthly lunch meeting where you each share an unknown personal story that has shaped you from your past. Give each person the same amount of time and set a timer. After each person shares, allow time for questions and reflections. Through the act of sharing something meaningful, everyone gets to see a side of you they didn’t know, and they’ll feel more connected and familiar as a result. 

2. Talk About Confidence

Use an already booked regular team meeting to focus on confidence barriers. Confidence is something that everyone struggles with, but few people share how it manifests for them. Having a vulnerable and open dialogue with your team about confidence issues can easily bring everyone together and have the added bonus of helping you feel more confident. Often, just talking about your confidence issues helps you realize that they aren’t real. 

3. Have a Zone of Genius Off-Site

For one of your quarterly leadership team off-sites, get everyone to do the work on their own to identify their Zone of Genius. Have a few sessions where each person shares what it is and how they are using it (or not) in their roles. This is another exercise that will allow everyone to not only get clear on what they’re best at but also be able to learn that same information about each other. (A couple of books to help with this option are The Genius Habit, The Big Leap, and Flow.)

4. Work With a Coach

Hire a performance coach to take your team through a 3-6-month process in learning how to get to the next level in their performance. This process should involve everything mentioned above categories and more. With this option, you can hand over the reins to an expert that will ensure that the end result is that your team is firing on all cylinders and is happy and connected. The right performance coach will map out a process to ensure that the process is delivering that result.