Children are our prefect leaders because they never expect perfection.
I recently took a trip to Walt Disney World with my wife and two of my daughters, ages 2 and 5. Disney World is truly a magical place for a child. For a parent playing the roles of travel agent, tour guide, bellhop, and financier all at once, it is easy to overlook the magic. In the midst of the combination of magic and stress, I learned a valuable lesson that I hope to apply as a leader in my home as well as at work. The lesson is simple: no one demands perfection of their leaders.
I learned this lesson by demanding perfection from my children. Asking two children to have perfect behavior while waiting in a 60-minute line to meet their hero is an unrealistic expectation. When they would bump into a stranger, I would ask them to stop. When they would fight, I would step between them. When they were too loud, I would ask them to quiet down. Eventually, it seemed that all I was doing was correcting my children. I became oblivious to the magic around me as I focused only on the negative. In acting this way, I was not being the perfect parent. Despite my imperfections as a parent, my children did not care. I wondered why, even after I had become frustrated with them, they would jump into my arms and give me a hug or kiss. How were they able to look past my imperfections as a parent?
The answer is simple: they did not make the same mistake I did. My children did not expect perfection out of me. In their eyes, it was OK if I made a mistake, became frustrated, or was not the “perfect parent.” All they required was that I was there; present in the moment with them. Once I learned this valuable lesson and applied it to them in return, I was able to enjoy the magic of our vacation.
As a leader, those you lead do not expect perfection. Do not be afraid to make mistakes or to reveal the fact that you are flawed. All others expect from you is to be there to help guide them along the way. In return, give those you lead the latitude to make mistakes. When they do, coach them to the right solution. Leadership is about people and people are not perfect. The sooner we stop demanding perfection, the quicker we will all become better leaders (and people).
CEO of Sparatan 36 Solutions