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Why Authentic Leaders Aren’t Perfectionists

For those of us A-types out there, the title of this blog can be a huge put-off. Isn’t perfection a worthy goal? If you can’t get it right, then what’s the point of trying, right?

Wrong. Very wrong.

It’s also wrong to say that striving to get things right should never be a goal, either.

The problem occurs when perfection is the ultimate goal.

And here’s why.

Perfection demands that nothing is marked done until every jot and tittle is in its rightful place, regardless of how long it takes and what resources are required.

Perfection doesn’t acknowledge time; perfection requires everything at the expense of time.

In a nutshell, perfection doesn’t allow for the vicissitudes of life.

One day can be incredible with all green lights, while the next is anything but incredible, with copious opportunities to swan dive into the depths of despair. Amidst this uncertainty, perfection eventually causes it’s worshipers to crumble. This is because it’s not sustainable.

While it may sound dramatic, perfection murders progress, learning, and most devastatingly, leadership.

For example, if my mentor was a perfectionist, I would never have the leadership experience I do today. He gave me opportunities to grow by letting me take the reins. I bumbled around trying to figure out how to lead, which would not be allowed if leadership required perfection.

Think about it; if perfection is the goal, only those with the most experience would be assigned projects. This means the newbies never get experience and the knowledge gap becomes exponentially greater with each passing day. Then when the oldies leave and the newbies become the oldies, there is such a paucity of experience that perfection is now impossible.

Great leaders understand they must grow leaders; authentic leaders recognize that perfection kills the ability to grow leaders.

Authentic leaders aren’t perfect. They don’t spend energy constantly trying to attain perfection, but rather do their best and use their experiences to grow both themselves and others over time.

Not only does this allow for energy to be reserved for what needs attention, but it gives a flexibility to allow less experienced leaders to step up and gain greater leadership experience.


I agree with this. This differentiate between leaders and managers. Managers tend to have short term outlook and only wants to get things done and hit the numbers or matrix whatever you call it. But leaders on the otherside, wants to groom and grow together. Their values are quite different and key value drivers are more mid to long term. They may not need you to be really perfect in short term but they believe that mid term not only you will be able to perform better but more important create value greater than the individual sum! This what differentiate leaders and managers. Often Managers think they are of leadershio quality, but i am afraid I don't see that across…

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You’ve made astute observations. Thank you!

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