Taking Imperfect Action as a Leader
One of my favorite quotes from Maya Angelou is “Do the best you can until you know better. When you know better, do better.” I have taken that to heart in so many ways in my business and as a coach. I have stopped focusing on perfection so much and focused on taking imperfect action.
For example, I took imperfect action when I launched ‘The Visibility Podcast!’ I kept thinking that I would launch a podcast someday, but a friend inspired me to do it now! I had a lot of things ready to go behind the scenes, but it was still a lot of work to get it ready for launch.
I had to fight every doubt in my head that was focused on the things that weren’t perfect and instead focus on what was right. The important thing was to get it out into the world, not that it was perfect. I share this with you because there are still moments when I do something new that those same doubts that kept me hidden in the past, will show up once again. The difference is that this time I didn’t hold myself back, I made a choice to do it even with all the doubts and fears.
If your imperfect action leads to some challenges down the road, you can always look at your situation from another perspective and try something else.
Sam was faced with this challenge in his role as a program lead supporting his executive leader.
Although he was a director, he had the responsibility of getting VPs to deliver what was needed for the program. While he understood they were busy, he felt like he was constantly trying to track them down to get their information.
I asked him to think about other options he could take instead of constantly following up to get what he needed.
- What could he do proactively to solve this issue?
- How could he make this process easier for the leaders he worked with and help himself at the same time?
He identified some ideas that he could experiment with to see what worked. We also talked about the importance of adding value, especially in a role that gets a lot of exposure to senior leadership. He could show his value by taking some of these ideas and executing them.
How would you handle a similar situation? Look at the challenges that you are facing from a new perspective to see if you can come up with a new approach.
You can always find a way to increase your personal brand, add value and build influential relationships no matter what level you are at.
You also need to allow your team to take imperfect action by themselves so they can grow.
“You need to stop doing so much for us and let us try things.” This was one of the comments in the performance review feedback from her team that made Renee pause. She led a team that had a lot of potential, but they were more junior in experience. In her mind, she was helping them, but her team clearly didn’t see it that way.
Leaders who want to support their teams may jump into “help” when they see the team is stuck or not moving fast enough to get things done. This was definitely one of my challenges. I truly thought I was helping the team get things done faster, but instead, I sent a strong message that I didn’t trust them to do it themselves. I had to slow down, have more patience, and set an example for them.
I needed to make a shift in how I led my team so they could shine. I had kept the spotlight on me instead of giving it to them. They were going to be leaders of teams someday and they would follow my lead if I didn’t show them a better way. My role was to help them learn the skills they needed to succeed, not jump in to save them.
When Renee shared her feedback with me, I could definitely relate to her situation. As we coached, she realized that she was focused more on herself than her team and that she had an opportunity to change. We coached on ways that she could build more trust, play to her team’s strengths and use delegation to help them grow.
Renee’s plan coming out of our session was to build trust, be consistent with her actions and coach her team to success. In her next session, Renee shared how excited she was to see her team step up and how well they responded to this new approach. It gave them a chance to develop and she could focus on adding value to support them.
Where are you still letting perfection or the doubts in your head hold you or your team back from doing something that you want to do? Is there an opportunity to explore more ways to help your team grow and let them try new things? If you want to set up some time to chat about your specific situation, please reach out! Here is the link: 30-minute conversation. You can make the choice to take an imperfect action that moves you forward!
Susan M Barber, President of Susan M Barber Coaching & Consulting, LLC, works with individuals, teams, and organizations to build skills that leaders need to attain breakthrough results. Her passion for coaching and leadership development is driven by seeing the transformation of leaders as they reach far beyond their own ideas of success. She continues to drive custom programs for groups that want to make changes in their careers to become more powerful leaders.