When you think about important leadership qualities, vulnerability doesn\u2019t spring to mind.\n \n That\u2019s a big problem in today\u2019s business world, says leadership consultant Patrick Lencioni. \u201cWe\u2019re taught to never let them see you sweat. But when we do make a mistake, other people see it even if we don\u2019t admit it,\u201d says Lencioni, author of the book Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding the Three Fears that Sabotage Client Loyalty. \u201cI say raise your arms and let them see you sweat. Have the confidence to acknowledge a mistake\u2014that shows you\u2019re going to deal with it.\u201d\n \n The press is full of recent examples of leaders refusing to fess up to very public failings, from financial malfeasance to product defects to oil spills. Yet even though the cover-up can be worse than the crime, baring it all isn\u2019t easy to do. Three fears keep us from copping to problems, says Lencioni: fear of losing a job, fear of being embarrassed and fear of feeling inferior.\n \n Lencioni, whose firm has worked with CIOs at Nike, Pacific Gas and Electric, and Novartis, says it\u2019s the third fear that tends to plague IT. \u201cI know plenty of CEOs who work with CIOs who are competent, even brilliant, but incapable of admitting a mistake.\u201d\n \n One way to overcome this tendency is to purposefully put yourself in a lower position. Take on dirty work no one else wants or give all the credit to a business partner. By deflating yourself, you will gain the trust and respect of others.\n \n Getting naked can be a tough sell to IT leaders already feeling exposed by short tenures, shadow IT organizations, shrinking budgets and CFO takeovers. But don\u2019t confuse vulnerability with weakness, the author warns. Acknowledging a slip-up takes the sting out of it and is one of an IT leader\u2019s most powerful tools.\n \n Still need convincing? Think about what you want in your own service providers. \u201cCIOs manage a truckload of vendors,\u201d says Lencioni, \u201cand nothing annoys them more than when [vendors] won\u2019t admit something they did wrong.\u201d\n \n Kathleen Fitzpatrick, CIO and managing director at Russell Reynolds Associates, says coming clean has helped her build a more robust relationship with the business. \u201cMost of our clients are not comfortable with change or technology. When we ask them to adopt our solutions, we are asking them to expose their vulnerabilities,\u201d Fitzpatrick says. \u201cBy admitting our vulnerabilities, we become more of a partner, sharing the risks required to change the business and help it grow.\u201d\n \n Saying you blew it also makes you a more effective team-builder. \u201cPeople walk through fire for leaders who are vulnerable,\u201d says Lencioni, who also wrote New York Times best seller The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. \u201cIf you don\u2019t do that for your people, they [won\u2019t] do it for their clients.\u201d\n \n Fitzpatrick encourages her employees to be up-front about problems during project updates in public forums. \u201cI consistently tell people that those who bring their issues to the forefront when we can still do something to remove obstacles will be given the help they need to succeed, and then [I] follow through on that promise in a very public way,\u201d she says. \u201cIt has helped to quickly transform the tone of our organization and our ability to more consistently deliver on our promises.\u201d\n \n None of this is about embracing incompetence. \u201cEmotional intelligence matters. No one likes false modesty,\u201d he says.\n \n Most organizations won\u2019t punish you for making mistakes, says Lencioni. So if you\u2019re reluctant to own up to one because you think it will cost you your job, that mistake is the least of your professional problems. It\u2019s unlikely you could ever succeed, he says, in an organization that won\u2019t give you room to fail.