2 Pesky Problems With Playing Perfect

2 Pesky Problems With Playing PerfectLeaders, we absolutely love playing perfect.

We’re the head honchos, the boss men. We’re in charge, so of course we’ve got everything together. We say jump and our followers ask “how high?” We don’t make mistakes. Our word is law, so you better get in line. We’ve got the benefit of years of experience, vision, resources, and wisdom. We’re the bees’ knees.

Do you agree? Is this you?

If you said yes, then I admire your bull-headed pride.

Actually, I don’t, because you’re not even close to being the perfect leader and you need to admit that. It’s ok. I’m not the perfect leader either. I sure do love to act like it sometimes, however.

A friend of mine wrote a great post on the culture of leaders who try to put on a perfect front: Pastor Barbie & Pulpit Culture.

Problem #1

If you cast yourself as perfect, you’re going to create 2 different types of followers:

  • Worshippers: Yes. People will worship your apparent perfection and attempt to reproduce it in their own crazy ways. They will seek your approval in an unhealthy, placating manner. These are usually the folks who love to suck up the most. When you fail to live up to your highly idealized persona of perfection, these folks will be utterly devastated.
  • Haters: These folks will see right through your front and go the other way. They stick around just because they “have to” for one reason or another. They will not listen to a word you say and will poke holes in every policy, initiative, and project that you create. These are the guys who are usually gunning for your position.  When you fall short of your own standards, they will make sure the world knows all about it.

When you set yourself up to be some sort of super-human, can-do-no-wrong kind of leader, you cast yourself as an object of worship. All sacrilege aside, that false personification will be proven wrong and the results will be disastrous for you, your team, and your mission.

Instead of being made perfect in your weakness, you’ll be made weak in your perfection.

Problem #2

Nobody cares how perfect you look or act. Seriously.

No one connects with that guy who acts like he’s got it all together. All he does is remind us of how much we don’t have it all together.

Think back to grade school. You ever spend much time with the teacher’s pet? Probably not.

We are all imperfect by nature. Don’t put forth the perception that you’re on some higher plane of existence. If you do, you will never establish the essential people-developing relationships that you need in order to get important things done.

The alternative?

Be real.

Radical, right? Who ever thought of something as crazy as that? Stop acting as if you’re a self appointed rock star and start operating from a place of pure authenticity. Be a strong and confident leader, but don’t hesitate to admit your failings. Build a team around you to compliment your weaknesses. Value their input and use it to grow.

We live in an increasingly transparent culture. People are getting called out and falling from grace in monumentally public fashion. Sports heroes, business leaders, public officials; no one is exempt. As a result, there is a growing cynicism and lack of trust pervading our culture.

More than anything (including perfection,) this generation craves authenticity. It needs honest leaders to stand up and tell their followers who they are and what they care about. Here’s how you do that:

  • Be a steadfast visionary.
  • Be willing to get down in the trenches.
  • Get passionate about your vision.
  • Communicate in a painfully authentic way.
  • Let people see your scars.
  • Be imperfect.

Should a leader strive for perfection?

Photo Credit: Hugh Macleod

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  • http://www.anidolheart.com Grant Jenkins

    Excellent stuff here. I couldn't agree more. One thing that attracted me to Cross Point was the courageous, not flawless, culture exhibited by its leaders. I quickly found out it was also contagious and embraced by the congregants. It's unlike anything I've ever experienced at a church before. Thanks for the link love, homie.

    • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

      You got it, man. I'm glad you liked the post. Cross Point has been an amazing model for how powerful and contagious authentic leadership can be.

  • http://twitter.com/angiebattle Angie Battle

    Yes, yes, and yes. Creating a culture that magnifies complete perfection over the messy process of pursuing excellence while being genuine is a recipe for disaster. The latter is far better in that, in the end, it’s far more productive and fulfilling.

    Thanks for reposting this…I love the reminder!!! :-)