The Myth of the ‘Perfect’ Leader

Posted October 19, 2016 in Career Management, Latest News & Insights, Leadership, Resilience, Self-Insight

Sometimes when I give leadership talks people will come up to me afterwards and tell me that they really appreciated my candour in talking about my short comings. I guess they think that because I am a leadership coach, I must be a perfect leader all the time (or at least pretend to be one when I’m getting paid to talk about leadership). I am far from perfect. But, I do try to be better. Some days I think I do pretty well…other days, really not so much. Here’s something that happened to me last week that I preach to others not to do. See if you can relate.

On Thanksgiving Sunday, I started to come down with a cold. It hit me hard of Monday. I stayed in bed all day and then ended up working at home on Tuesday. By Wednesday, I was only slightly better but had a client session that I felt I couldn’t cancel. So, I loaded up on drugs and headed off to the session. I worked from home for the remainder of the week. By Friday, I still wasn’t well. I hadn’t fully committed to being off sick. Instead I was ‘lightly working’ which meant that I wasn’t sleeping well because I kept thinking about the things I needed to catch up on the next day.

Friday at lunch, while on a Skype call with my colleagues, I declared that I was taking the afternoon off. I needed to ‘rest and rejuvenate’ because obviously working while sick wasn’t getting me better.

So let me pause here and say… I know better than this. I teach sessions with our members on the importance of recovery. Of how taking down time is critical to both your physical and mental well-being.

Back to Friday afternoon. I decided to get some fresh air and took my dog for a walk to the dog park. While she was off romping with her friends, I casually scrolled through emails and read an article that one of my colleagues had sent me. I shot off a quick response saying that I thought it was great. Realizing in the moment that I wasn’t exactly role modelling positive behaviour (after all, I’d just finished saying that I was taking the afternoon off), I hastily added that ‘for the record, I’m writing this from the dog park’). I received this response from my wise colleague Janey:

Ummm… It doesn’t matter if you physically at the dog park if you are not “present” with her (and yourself) at the dog park.

Your mind needs a rest as much as your body.  Your brain needs to get back to a state of “coherence” because when it’s not.. it causes “dis-ease” in your body.

Not sure if you’ve yet seen a doctor? Although I’m not one.. I’m going to go out on a limb prescribe a remedy for you.

Here it is:

Put the phone away.

Close your eyes.

Take a few deep breaths.

Let Go.

Do it again.

Take another deep breath.

This time – really let go.

Enjoy the sun on your face.

Take in the moment.

Soak up the beauty of the fall colors.

Laugh at Bella.

Laugh at yourself.

And know… your are blessed.

Be well. 🙂

It’s always good to work with people who aren’t afraid to call you on your bullshit. I did turn off my phone for the rest of the day after that and today went to a walk in clinic to get antibiotics so that I can get fully better.

I don’t have to be a superhero at work. And neither do you. Take care of yourself so that you can take care of others. And no one is a perfect leader. The best we can do is learn from our mistakes and try a little better next time.

Happy leading!


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