I was asking my self this question few days ago after listening on the radio to somebody who - despite having had the top role in the organisation - talked about how doubts would surface regularly about her ability to lead. Not openly of course, but in rather subtle ways, she was questioning her right to be up there and her ability to achieve the best for the organisation.
It occurred to me that it is possibly because this senior lady had a rather 'fixed' idea of what a CEO looks like that she might be beating herself down. This concept that a perfect CEO should be doing or saying or looking in a specific way may be what is undermining her confidence on the one hand and on the other pushing her away from her #authentic self.
In my opinion it is a whole lot healthier and positive to think not of striving for perfection but rather striving for excellence. The difference is perhaps small but rather important when it comes to its impact!
Excellence is a dynamic concept that may change according to individuals, context, time, technological progress, culture and so on. Excellence is a positive concept inasmuch as it is acknowledged by others but not imposed by others. Most importantly, it also has a 'human' feel to it, inasmuch as it can be achieved, it is worth striving for but it always leaves room for learning and improvement.
Perfection is by definition not wordily. As such striving for perfection is a self-defeating and negative concept as it can never be conquered! That is why you may notice that...
- perfectionists can be very dissatisfied people
- perfectionists can focus on one thing at a time
- perfectionists can be very self-absorbed
- perfectionists have the tendency to procrastinate.
- perfectionists are so fixed on the destination that they will often miss out on the joy of the journey!
So rather than concerning ourselves with being perfect I suggest that we focus on being on a path to excellence.
Authenticity and excellence walk hand in hand: the answer to 'what is excellence?' requires me to connect with my authentic self in order to align with my most important values and beliefs. Quite the opposite, wanting to be perfect may compromise who you truly are in favour of some preconceived idea that is impressed upon us.
As authentic leaders we choose to enjoy the journey as well as a destination. We are also grateful and learn from the mistakes that happen on that pathway.
Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieving their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.