I need to be honest. As the imperfect leader, I'm scared to death to share my insights. Can someone who is flawed and imperfect like me add any value to you? My grammar is poor, my experience narrow, and my thoughts untested. Wait, is that even true?
Is it possible that in humility, in sharing stories of vulnerability, that I may be of some impact to the lives of others? All around us we see the most influential leaders. The top 50 here, the top 40 under 40 there. I can't compete. All I have is a large number of stories that do nothing more than point to mistakes and failure - aka "a greater understanding". Is there value in vulnerability?
My very first attempt at a blog post was sent to a family member who is a well known author and speaker. His analysis? The content, format, grammar and punctuation were all wanting! Hmm. So my response? I'll never write a blog post again. Why put myself out there for criticism?
Do you ever give up that easy?
I'm ashamed that I did. I've been fired twice, in a row... well not fired but my position has been eliminated. Hmm. I guess that makes me a failure. Yet in this imperfect leaders life there are imperfect insights. Brightspots. Lessons learned. As I think about it, most of us aren't "successful". Most of us don't qualify for an INC magazine award. Yet we lead anyway. In our own imperfections we pull the sled, often alone. Trying to survive. So this first of all imperfect insights?
Our imperfection is the most valuable thing we can offer to our team and to the markets we serve.
Crazy I know, but in our willingness to state what we don't know, we enable an openness to discover what we need. In our sharing of past mistakes and failures we create an environment where it's ok to try and to risk. Issues can be raised, problems addressed.
Successful organizations are really good at solving problems right?
But what if the leader isn't open to being solved and we are the problem? What if we are the lid on the organization, keeping it from achieving greater things? Jim Collins says:
“Level 5 leaders are a study in duality: modest and willful, humble and fearless.”
The imperfect leader will need to be both vulnerable and valuable. Don't just own your business with all it's flaws and imperfections, own your imperfect story too!