As all great leaders know… leaders are not perfect.
Try as they might, every leader still has flaws. They still make mistakes. They still fall short. They still have regrets. They still yearn to do better. Every leader is imperfect.
So why is it that so many leaders try to appear flawless?
While strength and confidence are important qualities of any leader, there is a fine line between emitting confidence and putting on a façade of infallibility. When leaders aim to keep up appearances, they risk more than falling short of expectations; they risk alienating those whom they lead.
While it may seem logical that people ought to have more trust in leaders who never make mistakes, in my experience, people have far greater trust and respect for leaders who are willing to be open about their weaknesses and shortcomings.
Why is this? I believe it’s because every person desires connection and authenticity. We each feel a common bond with other people who experience the same challenges and make the same mistakes we do. We don’t want perfect, we want real.
We instinctively distrust ‘perfect,’ because we know it doesn’t exist. Instead, we desire authenticity. We ultimately have more respect for a leader who has visible shortcomings than we have for a leader who hides or denies every flaw.
So what does authenticity look like?
Maybe it’s a little self-deprecating humor at the next staff meeting. Maybe it’s a private apology to that team member whose toes you figuratively stepped on during your last project. Maybe it’s asking for help with something you find challenging. Maybe it’s sharing with your leadership team about a personal struggle. Maybe it’s admitting a mistake that you could have blamed on someone else.
Whatever it is, make a point of being authentic this week, and every week. The long-term value of authenticity will far outweigh the short-lived benefits of perceived perfection!
Copyright © 2014 by Dan Nielsen – www.dannielsen.com
National Institute for Healthcare Leadership – www.nihcl.com
America’s Healthcare Leaders – www.americashealthcareleaders.com