Traditional leadership models tend to portray leaders as being all things to all people: to command, to control and to orchestrate the actions of others at all levels of the organization, to have the intellectual capacity to make sense of remarkably complex issues while at the same time creating the future that ignites everyone’s enthusiasm, to have all the answers and convert them into solid plans, to be flawless and not to seek counsel from anyone outside the inner circle and to broadcast announcements rather than connect on an emotional level.
However, the tides are changing and so is the portrait of a leader. Leading in these times of globalization, complexity and ambiguity demands new wide-ranged capabilities and skills. With new trends emerging, leaders are being required to build meaningful and trusting relationships that will ensure continuity of their organization and embody the change they want to see through modeling behaviors to break the allegory of multitalented frontrunners, as no one can possibly stay on top of everything without exhausting themselves and damaging the organization in the process.
Introducing The ‘Consciously Imperfect Leader’
How often have you pretended to be confident when you really were unsure? Have you ever felt comfortable acknowledging that you were confused by the latest business results or caught off guard by a competitor’s move? Would you ever admit feeling inadequate to cope with the complex issues your organization was facing? Do you experience a profound amount of incongruity every day, stretched between heavy expectations and the reality you are facing?
If this sounds familiar and you can identify yourself within these situations, then you might be one of the executives trapped in the myth of a “superhuman” leader: the person at the top with paranormal qualities and without any faults. However, it’s about time to put that myth to rest, not only for the sake of any frustrated leader but also for the health of any organization. Even the most talented leaders need to look first within before can accept and execute any input from the others.
As a consciously imperfect leader, you:
• Understand what drives your behaviors and actions
• Become aware of your own needs first so you can notice the needs of others
• Find meaning and purpose to execute clarity
• Escape conformity to lead congruent with your values
• Allow yourself to be vulnerable
• Acknowledge both your strengths and weaknesses
• Find the courage to rely on others to compensate for any missing skill
• Fuel curiosity to move from executing to leading
• Shift carrying the responsibility to the ability to respond
Effectiveness is a measurement of truth.
In the leadership ultra-race, filled with competition, broken dreams and victory of ego, we tend to lose sight of real value and become our triumphs and our accomplishments. Defined by our possessions, achievements and reputation, we separate ourselves from “others,” following the promise of moving up in the get-ahead culture and the need for gratifying approval.
Although there is no golden recipe that yields perfect leaders, and the company context usually determines which skills are most important in a given environment, there are some essential behaviors which improve an individual’s chances of succeeding in the leadership/managerial role. Encouraging consciousness in leading organizations helps disengage practices that praise the abuse of power and instead promotes attaining long-lasting, meaningful outcomes.
Consciously imperfect leaders know that they cannot pursue both safety and freedom simultaneously and that caution and courage are mutually exclusive. They understand the power of self-awareness, which allows them to makes sense of any circumstances, especially in the face of adversity, as it’s easy to lose the sight of the vision when feeling bound by disapproval.
Consciously imperfect leaders understand that change means being able to adapt, and they include themselves in the process. They have integrity and do the right thing even when nobody is watching.
Consciously imperfect leaders practice balanced judgment, having had learned that the mind — the mighty judger and chooser — commands things in life and business worth doing and things that pay off. Not everything that pays off is worth doing, and not everything worth doing necessarily pays off.
Consciously imperfect leaders recognize the leadership presence — expertise, wisdom, new ideas and commitment — at all levels of an organization and are not afraid to reach out for it.
Consciously imperfect leaders do not undermine the value of the right skill sets and attitudes: they encourage and help develop both. They endorse consciousness and reflection and the need for questioning assumptions in today’s demanding business environment.
Consciously imperfect leaders fear the fear, as they understand that fear only exists in their thoughts. “New” can never really cause fear, because fear only raises from thoughts, and those belong to the realm of the “know.” Self-awareness then allows evaluation of those fears in the name of progress.
Consciously imperfect leaders find ways not to limit their own challenges but instead to challenge their own limits. They acknowledge self-imposed limitations and take control of their lives to create lasting outcomes before they can ignite those within the entire organization.
Consciously imperfect leaders learn from own mistakes because they can recognize they have made them. They don’t confuse stubbornness and inability to learn with being strong and unbreakable.
Last but not least, let’s not confuse consciously imperfect leaders with those simply incompetent ones. The distinction rests in the recognition of one’s gifts and awareness of limits. Self-awareness counterbalances a lack of certain capabilities and self-inquiry proves to bring further benefits by complimenting already available skill sets with those needing fine-tuning. Furthermore, stigmas of old assumptions can be shattered, unlearning and relearning implemented and new game-changing results achieved. Cultures can be transformed and resilient and fully engaged employees and teams created.
This article was originally published at Forbes