Embracing imperfection as a leader

Embracing imperfection as a leader

Leadership can be challenging. Responsibilities can take you away from your true north. Changes happen which can make you feel like a fish out of water. Failure happens and you have to determine what to do with that. Sometimes it’s not failing to climb the mountain that brings a leader down; sometimes it’s the small hill nearby.

Look, everyone has a bad day or a miss that can become a fail. That’s going to happen, it’s a part of business life. What’s important isn’t whether it happens but how you deal with it. 

That’s going to drive how you look at it and how you speak to yourself. 

Consider this statement: I’ve never failed.

Next, consider a new definition of failure – to not learn or grow from a mistake but to repeat it systemically without end.

Based on that, I’ve never failed… but boy oh boy, have I learned a lot.

When you encounter the challenge of a bad day or crushing moment, step away. Take a breath. If you can, step outside of it to learn from it. What does overcoming the issue look like? What would success be when facing this challenge? What does the business need to do next and what do you need to do to get there?

Don’t accept defeat but don’t miss the opportunity to embrace the challenge of getting better. Step back, evaluate what went wrong, make a plan to stop the failure from happening again and be great. Next, go to the person you are responsible to and tell them what happened, what your plan is, and what you are doing to make it better.

As President Harry S. Truman once said, “the buck stops here.” You’re the leader, you’d best own it if you want anyone else to.

The next step is to show others that you recognize the situation, you have a plan to improve it, and that accountability is accepted and embraced. The leader who runs from their imperfections is running to their own end.

Remember to tell yourself this isn’t a fail, it’s an opportunity for professional growth and to become more knowledgeable.  Without challenge, there is no growth. 

To be very successful, surround yourself with people who aren’t like you. Create diversity in thought, so that when you have that learning moment, you can draw on your team to own it, plan around it, and as a group declare that this challenge is accepted.

Recognizing your weaknesses by surrounding yourself with people who are strong where you are weak. That is also embracing imperfection. 

Remember, as you grow through leadership, be yourself and don’t push yourself for that image of perfection. I’ve been there and tried that; people want you and not the image you’re trying to portray. The leaders who present themselves as perfect eventually end up leaders with titles but without followers. If you truly want to be a leader, don’t seek perfection.

Be your own wonderful you, recognize your own strengths, and own your imperfections as you grow, learn, and change.