Updated: Jul 30, 2022
Nothing sidelines a leadership project like the fear of failure, the need for too much control or striving for perfectionism. These three obstacles often turn up in the leadership coaching space. There is a lot to be learned from the behaviours that emerge from the three of these things. If you have these traits in your personality congratulations you are very normal; many high performing professionals do and now is the time you can discover how to work with them in order to grow.
Fear of failure is very real and it can often be the reason some leaders won’t be creative and get started on something innovative. But the truth is failure is a part of learning and growing and we can better navigate our failures by seeing the whole picture. By this I mean not focusing exclusive on outcomes but rather ‘learning processors’, sharing your failures, seeking feedback and being mindfully aware that the development of knowledge that leads to good character and positive relationships is by far more valuable than a solution in and of itself.
Control is something we all want to feel intrinsically, a sense of power over our situation and to minimise our exposure to risk. There are somethings within our control and if a large part of time is spent attending to that we will feel less stress. But recognising that when you’re leading a team the more invested the team is in the process the greater their contribution will be. In this way you have to be willing to surrender some control to empower your team to rise up to meet your team goals. There is a level of uncertainty that's got to motivate you to maintain your edge and if you can learn where your sweet spot is you will navigate peak performance more sustainably.
Perfectionism while many leaders might be proud of it, is actually a real hindrance to effective leadership. Sure attention to detail is fantastic but the type of perfectionisms that comes from insecurity can drive the need to be always right, lead to blind spots and unrealistic expectations of yourself and others. Science is no doubt messy and takes a lot of trial and errors to find solutions. Practising self-compassion and compassion toward others can help leaders model the embracing of our imperfections, slow down the need for right answers and outcomes and allow us to praise the willingness to ‘wrestle’ with the process instead.
Leadership can be complex and requires leaders to simultaneously develop themselves while empowering others to develop themselves. Facing our fear of failure, need for control and striving for perfectionism we can begin to build a more holistic relationship with ourselves that will enable yourself and others to thrive naturally and succeed at what you put our mind to.