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The 3 Perils of the Perfectionist Leader


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Okay so here I am working on the manuscript of my new book due out in January titled, “The Control Freak Revolution” and I am writing a segment about being a negative control freak who has the maddening behavior of perfectionism. As I am writing this piece I am thinking to myself, thank goodness I don’t have the affliction of perfectionism when WHAM it hit me that wait a tick I DID have perfectionist tendencies and they were holding me back.

Its no wonder I am writing a book about control freaks because it takes a control freak to know one! Okay so I am a recovering control freak J The point is that a perfectionist can absolutely destroy relationships and cause others to not want to step up for us because they feel defeated before they even start.

Before we get into the three perils of being a perfectionist leader ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I set impossible standards for myself rather than just out of reach goals?
  2. Do I expect others to provide me with nothing but perfection before I give them my approval?

Read on to find out the three perils of being a perfectionist:

  1. Peril #1- You will create an environment where people will not want to take on extra tasks or duties for fear of letting you down.

    Many perfectionists would argue that they wouldn’t be where they were today if they weren’t perfectionists. I disagree with that statement. I think the statement should be that we wouldn’t be where we were today if we didn’t set high standards. You see there is a difference. Perfectionist does not allow for margin of error and are severely unhappy or depressed when they or others do not achieve their perfectionist ideals. A high achiever on the other hand sets high standards for themselves and others. Study after study confirms that people want to work for a leader who sets high goals for themselves and for others. However people also want to have those goals be logical and just out of reach in order to be motivated.
  1. Peril #2- You energy level is not consistent and is reliant on moments of perfection.

    Have you felt like you are on an emotional roller coaster? It is likely because you are only happy when you achieve those rare moments of perfection or what you perceive to be perfection. Here’s the kicker your team energy level is a direct reflection of your energy level so if you are on a continuous up and down with your energy you can bet that your team goes there with you.
  1. Peril #3- No one will tell you truth.

    This one is a doozy.(possible Canadian slang) When people are around someone who will accept nothing but perfection the natural tendency is for others to tell you only what they think you want to hear. They will avoid telling you when things go wrong and they will hide the big things that go wrong in order to postpone the inevitable blow up of when you find out. This can be so harmful in so many ways not to just you personally but also to those who work with and for you and ultimately for the organization.

So go ahead and be a high achiever but be aware (beware) the perfectionist tendencies. Here is a quick comparison to make sure you are clear on the distinction:

Sets standards beyond reason
Never satisfied unless it is perfect
Becomes angry or depressed with failure
Is obsessed with fear of failure
Sees mistakes as proof of unworthiness
Defensive with feedback
High Achiever
Sets high standards
Enjoys the process as much as the outcome
See failure as experience and learning
Manager anxiety and fear to benefit
Sees mistakes as opportunities
Sees feedback as crucial to growth

Wouldn’t you and those around you rather be around a high achiever? I would.

About the Author

Cheryl Cran, CSP President of Synthesis at Work Inc. works with organizations in significantly increasing productivity and profitability through communication strategies that improve employee performance, leverage team synergy and build extraordinary leaders. Many of Synthesis at Work's clients are award winning industry leaders.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2007-08-14 17:10:38 in Employee Articles

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