Striving for Perfection
My five-year-olds can dress themselves. It seems like a simple statement, but this act can save our family at least ten precious minutes every morning and they are very proud of their accomplishment.
Unless it is unsafe attire (such as wearing cowboy boots to gym class), they choose their outfits each day. I prefer to think that I am supporting their expression of fashion, but they are often wearing sweatpants with a polo shirt or a gingham tunic with paisley leggings.
This morning was different. It was picture day at school. The outfit this morning would be captured for eternity. I knew all “good” mothers would have a bow-to-toe matching outfit, color-coordinated sibling outfits – all of which did not resemble last year’s picture day.
Striving for perfection, my daughter and I had an epic clash of stubbornness over her outfit. She wanted to wear a brown tunic with striped leggings (complete with a hole in the knee) and tennis shoes with tube socks. I preferred a blue sweater dress that matched her eyes (and just happened to match her brothers’ polo shirts) with dress socks.
Her argument: Why did I get to choose her outfit on picture day?
She was right. If I trusted her to choose her outfit every other day, why did I get to choose it today?
If you trust your police chief to apprehend suspects daily, do you get to decide to handle a case that will likely appear in the news media? If you trust your public works department to construct roads daily, do you get to design a roadway that is stirring up customer complaints?
OR, do good leaders ask questions or set parameters instead?
I could have asked my daughter if her shoes and socks coordinated with the outfit she chose. Or, for picture day, I could have set parameters of wearing a red, blue, or yellow dress with no holes and dress shoes, but let her pick the outfit pieces.
In your organization, set the parameters for decisions and the expectation of the end goal and let your employees do the job you hired them to do. For employee teams, draw the box for their decision and let the team make the decision – let them be the high-performing team that you desire.
Our struggle this morning ended in compromise. Once dressed, she asked me if she looked pretty. Crushed and realizing that I sacrificed her confidence for a glimpse of perfection, I replied that she is always the prettiest girl I know.
Striving for perfection, at home or at work, is not only unrealistic, but it can divert you away from your goal (Tweet This). At home, my goal for each and every day is for her to leave our house with confidence to take on the world.
Build the confidence of your employees by giving and allowing them to keep their decision-making abilities (Tweet This). As a leader, your job is to set the direction, parameters, and end goal. Give your employees the confidence to do their job and get to the end goal, no matter what their style may be.
Executive Search Manager