Berger Leadership Blog

Categories: Leadership

Acknowledge imperfections to be great

Dan BergerNone of us are perfect. As leaders, we have to be intentional about not letting our bad habits and weaknesses overpower the skills and characteristics needed to lead an organization. It's up to us to balance the good with the bad.

In a new post, leadership guru Dan Rockwell highlights how leaders can use imperfections to be better. First, he outlines negative behaviors leaders should work to overcome:

  • Paranoia: Self-esteem fluctuates, and it can take a lot of work to conquer thoughts of doubt. However, those of us in positions of power cannot let our fears hinder our leadership. Your team is not your enemy or competition. Lead with integrity, confidence, openness, and kindness, and don't worry about what others might be saying about you. Great leaders recognize the skills and intelligence of their employees and let them shine.
  • Political: Office power struggles and games put up roadblocks on your path to success. Presidents and CEOs are put in those positions to make the hard decisions – you've proven your skills and knowledge to do so. Don't shy away from doing what you think is best because others might disagree. Be strong and decisive in your decision making.
  • Intimidation: Great leaders don't gain respect through force. If you're using intimidation to get people to fall in line, you're doing it wrong. Employees are more engaged and productive when they feel like they and their opinions matter.
  • Over-talkative: The ability to intently listen – and comprehend what the other person is saying – is a must-have trait for leaders. You might be an innately chatty person, but one-sided conversations are off-putting. Give your team the space to share their thoughts and be heard. You learn a lot from other people's perspectives.

But, even with our imperfections we can still be great leaders. Rockwell notes things his "imperfect boss" did to earn his respect and loyalty:

  • You knew what he thought, and where you stood: Don't be afraid to speak your mind, but put your emotional intelligence to work and do it in constructive ways. Great leaders show appreciation and recognize their employees' hard work, while balancing the necessity of holding people accountable.
  • He provided opportunities to grow and showed you how to be better – in no uncertain terms: It can be hard to give and receive feedback, but it's a necessary part of growth. Provide your team with the resources and opportunities to improve themselves and be willing to help them get there.
  • He expected performance AND got dirty with you: Part of leadership is delegation, but leaders earn their employees' respect when they see them putting in the hard work, too.
  • He bought lunch: Going back to showing appreciation, do little things to let your team know you care about them and their contributions to your organization.
  • He was loud AND caring: Strength and confidence – which all leaders should possess – can be intimidating. But, reflecting on the intimidation bullet above, balance that with kindness and genuine care.
  • He got to know people: Talk with your employees. Build those personal connections in addition to your professional relationship. We all have lives outside of work – when you show interest in what else is going on in people's lives it builds trust and respect.
  • He honored quality work: We perform our best when we know it's valued. High-performing employees can become disillusioned if they see people getting ahead who aren't putting in the work. Be sure you're rewarding those who deserve it and it'll boost morale across the office.

Have the professional maturity and self-awareness to recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Be committed to addressing your weaknesses – whether it's working to put them aside or learning how they complement your leadership.

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About the Author

B. Dan Berger, President and CEO, NAFCU

Dan BergerB. Dan Berger first joined NAFCU in 2006 and helped turn the association into the premiere advocate for the credit union industry. Since becoming president and CEO in 2013, Berger, who is also an author, economist, and one of Washington's top lobbyists, is credited with bringing national attention to key policy issues, while ensuring NAFCU's members meet policymakers at the highest levels of government.

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