4 Ways Perfectionism Will Ruin Your Leadership Mojo

By Tomas H. Lucero
  1. You will end up micromanaging instead of leading: Micromanagement is an over-controlling style that ends up inhibiting the people you need to mobilize. Instead of spending your energy on performing important leadership functions such as empowering, building trust, inspiring and challenging others you will spend it over-controlling people and events.
  2. You will create “negative stretch”: Challenging, or stretching, an employee’s capability is what an effective leader does. It has excellent outcomes. The company receives more bang for their buck and the employee grows. Negative stretch, however, always produces counterproductive results. Negative stretch is when an employee is pushed beyond their comfort zone with insufficient or no support at all. A perfectionist approach to leading will always establish unrealistic goals and standards, inevitably creating “negative stretch.”
  3. You will transform your workplace into a negative space: There’s already enough negativity floating out in the world, like smog. Nobody needs more of it in the workplace. However, this is exactly what a perfectionist leader will create. While perfectionism may create the illusion of striving for a positive ideal—perfection—in reality, it feeds on the negative: gaps, limitations, problems and mistakes. This will put employees on the defensive. No one likes to work in an environment where there is little focus on strengths and success. A perfectionist leader moves an organization into what is known as a “path of limitation,” where, paradoxically, by focusing on avoiding error, one drives headlong towards it.
  4. You will create a “Golem Effect,” or a tendency towards negative self-fulfilling prophecies. Perfectionists, who impose excessive amounts of pressure on themselves and are chronically disappointed in their work and performance end up projecting these attitudes onto other people. An expectation that others’ work will be subpar and inferior—just how the perfectionist feels about their work—will be created. The end result is that any positive energy within the team, or organization, will be sapped. Employees can stop putting in their best efforts because they know that they are unlikely to ever gain positive recognition from you.

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