There seems to be a myth that leaders need to be perfect. They need to have all the answers. They need to know how to do everything and they are always on top of everything that comes into their space.
This topic came up in a leadership training that I was facilitating last week. The participants were relatively new leaders. People who have been experts in their field and who’d been elevated into leadership roles. So this was their first touch or taste of leadership training. And they were all pretty nervous because they felt like they just had to know it all right out of the gate, which is a little unfair and a little unreasonable.
And so we talked about what are the things that are important in becoming a leader and stepping up to lead a team. One of the big things we focused on was relationship, about making connection with your team members. Creating the trust and respect between yourself and your team.
We talked about the idea that people do business with people that they ‘know, like and trust’. And the same is true in terms of your leader and team members; people prefer to work for people that they know, like and trust.
Then the conversation turned full circle back to being the perfect leader. And I think that’s where it comes undone. Why? Because if you’re the perfect leader, this kind of ideal of leadership, then how do I as a team member actually relate to you, connect to you? Because you’re so perfect.
What I wanted to share with you is exactly what I shared with them. Leadership isn’t perfection.
Leadership is about striving, it’s about stepping up. It’s about facing up to yourself and it’s about showing up in the best way that you can at a particular point in time. And of course, working with the people around you so that they can do all of those things. creating the relationships, creating trust.
And that’s about not being perfect. That is actually about sharing some of your foibles or your mistakes. Sharing what you’re most focused on in your own development so that they can see that yes you’re human. Because we can connect with another human. We can’t connect with this ideal of perfection; the idea that all leaders are moulded the same and the only way to be a leader is to be perfect.
Leaders aren’t perfect, they’re human and they’re striving to be even better.
So when you think about the relationship that you have with your leader or with your team, think about the humanity of it, think about the fact that it’s okay to not be perfect. It’s OK sometimes to let people see some of those imperfections and that you’re striving too. You’re self-aware enough to know what some of those imperfections are and to choose to take action.
As a leader you can still be doing your best to show up with all of your great strengths and resources, and be continuing to grow and develop. We’re all a work in progress and leaders are exactly the same. They are a work in progress. They possibly just work a little bit harder at that growth and development so that they’ve always got something to offer the people around them.
I’d love to know your thoughts.
AND: Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways I can help you grow your coaching and leadership: