The Perfect Leader?

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Have you ever had a perfect boss? Is it even possible to be a perfect manager?
A participant in one of the workshops I was teaching last week approached me with a concern because his leadership profile showed a high score in Perfection. Perfectionists, in the extreme, have such high personal standards that they are unhappy with themselves, and often, with the people around them. Nothing is ever good enough. This individual said that it was even more of a strain at home and was hurting his relationships.
As a reader of LeaderFeeder you are demonstrating your interest in being a better leader. I want to clarify that the goal is not perfection, but excellence.
The Perfect Leader
Think back for a moment to all of the supervisors and managers you have had in your career…
How many of them were effective leaders in your opinion? Having asked this question to hundreds of participants and audience members over the last few months, the range is 10% to 40% of the bosses you have worked for were effective leaders.
Two follow-up questions…
Even when you consider the really excellent managers you have worked for, would you consider them to be perfect in every aspect of leadership? Or did they have some flaws? Unanimously people respond that even the best leaders they have worked for had flaws.
When you think of some of the worst managers you have ever worked for, do you think they had any idea of how bad they were? Most ineffective managers have very low self-awareness of just how bad they really are.
And so…
Realize that the ideal of a Perfect Leader is really a myth. Great leaders still have flaws. Which means that you have the capacity and potential to be a great leader. There is also a possibility that you might not be as great a leader as you think you are. In either case, commit yourself to continuous development on your leadership journey.
On a related point, there likely are not any perfect fathers, mothers, teachers, kids, husbands and wives. In fact it could be argued that each of us is a student-father, student-wife, student-manager, etc. The goal is to do the best you can with what you’ve got and get better over time.
Reflection Questions
Are you striving for perfection instead of pursuing excellence? Do you think you are better than you are? Are you open to growing and developing yourself?
Action Items

  • Take action to improve your leadership style and approach.
  • Remember that every individual can exhibit leadership even if they don’t hold the formal title of manager or supervisor.
  • Instead of being hard on yourself or others, simply realize you will be a lifelong student of every area of your life.