Executive Education

Three Ways Embracing Imperfection Will Make You a Better Leader

People are not perfect. Shocking, I know!

Quite the opposite, actually. And our imperfections are often publicized and picked apart by our critics. Dealing with these criticisms can be a true test of our leadership mettle. The first step to overcoming them is self-awareness.

If you are aware of your weaknesses – and willing to work on them – you have the opportunity to use imperfections to your advantage.

I have guided multiple C-level leaders through the practice of translating weaknesses into strengths. In the end, they have all come out stronger and more refined leaders for their organizations.

Here are three ways you can work through your weaknesses and become a better leader today.

  1. Mistakes are not failures, but learning experiences.

People often overlook the value of learning as you go. We like to have all the information before starting an endeavor. This is the ideal — which is hardly ever a reality. Imperfect people make mistakes.

A mistake shows that you’ve attempted something new, and signals that you need to alter your process. Mistakes can be great because, through them, you can stumble upon a solution. Becoming a better leader is about recognizing many of your successes happen through “mistakes.”

  1. Not being able to “do it all” allows you to delegate to your team and take advantage of their skillset.

This is such an important aspect of becoming a better leader. The greatest advantage of working with and in a team is that everyone brings something unique to the table. As a whole, your team can operate as a “super-charged” employee — but to achieve success, you must involve your employees in some of the decision-making.

It is important to note that imperfection also binds people together. Showing vulnerability is an attractive quality because it displays your humanity.

Employees are more likely to take risks and be vocal about ideas they have when they feel empowered.

Just be careful that vulnerability doesn’t morph into insecurity.

  1. Translate your “laziness” in one area into “focus” in another.

As imperfections go, laziness is one that is most looked down upon in our corporate culture.

The entire premise of laziness is that you would rather be doing something else — so harness that! Turn your attention to other projects for a while and procrastinate productively.

There are a few tasks that likely cannot be delegated or avoided. The trick to checking them off your list is three-fold:

  • Schedule a specific time to complete them.
  • Devote the time required to execute your schedule.
  • Reward yourself when they’re done.

By skipping one or two of these steps, you are setting yourself up for failure. Follow through and watch your leadership influence strengthen.

Getting Back on Track

Low self-awareness, poor delegation skills and laziness are innovation crushers. They indicate a lack of passion. It may be time to start looking for new ventures that get you excited again.

Brainstorm new ideas. When you come across one that just won’t go away, visualize the steps needed to put it into action.

When it comes down to the basics of imperfection, it’s critical to realize we all have them. Discuss imperfections with peers and mentors. Share your deepest weaknesses and put together action steps to overcome them.

This accountability will do wonders for your walk as a leader.

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Dave Ferguson
Internationally respected and highly experienced executive leadership coach, speaker and author. Check Dave out at LivingToLead.com. Dave is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine.