Strive for perfection. Be it school, university, first day of work, or career progress, this need for “perfection” is reinforced in everything we do. Even in our personal lives, as a child, spouse, or parent, perfect as a prefix is omnipresent.
This rush for perfection has its place in leadership too, as it encourages accountability, quality control, and attention to detail. But if left unchecked, it could destroy deadlines, reduce productivity, derail projects, and squash team morale.
If an adaptable and more successful leader with greater peace of mind is what you’re aiming for, progress and not perfection is the mantra to live by. Here’s how it can help-
Leaders obsessing over perfection often struggle with bringing their product or service to the market on time. And in this era where delays of even a few months could jeopardize growth or even company existence in the case of startups, this drive for perfection could prove detrimental.
In contrast, leaders who prioritize progress ensure their offerings reach the customers as soon as possible. It helps them collect real-world feedback, identify areas of improvement, and make rapid adjustments. This iterative approach enables us to build products that resonate with our audience and capitalize on early opportunities.
With newer technologies, market trends, and consumer preferences emerging regularly, the corporate landscape is in a constant state of flux. Leaders who are fixated on perfection often have rigid strategies that struggle to adapt to sudden shifts.
But when the focus is on consistent progress, it is easier to be more agile and pivot when required. The adaptability makes it easier to seize emerging opportunities, navigate challenges, and maintain relevance even in a dynamic marketplace.
Failure is one of the most significant fears of leadership. Perfection often leads to a fear of taking risks, stifling creativity, and preventing leaders from exploring uncharted territories.
(And on that note, do spare some time to check out my piece on Forbes, where I share some insights on how leaders can overcome their fears.
But those who emphasize progress understand that failure is not the end. It is, in fact, a stepping stone to innovation and growth. They consider failure a valuable learning experience that offers insights for refining business strategies and making informed decisions.
Organizations thrive in an ecosystem of collaboration and feedback. But this pursuit of flawlessness often makes some leaders resistant towards these crucial aspects of successfully leading an organization. The perfectionist mindset impacts their ability to engage with others and build stronger relationships effectively.
On the other hand, leaders who prioritize progress are more open to constructive criticism and willing to collaborate with others. The approach fosters a sense of community and a willingness to learn from diverse perspectives, ultimately leading to more robust outcomes.
Ok, so there are many reasons to emphasize progress over perfection as a leader. But how to adopt this progressive mindset? Here are a few tips that could help-
Clearly defined, achievable goals provide you and your team with a sense of purpose and direction. As you’re emphasizing progress, ensure the goals you set are focused on achieving milestones and not perfection.
To progress consistently, you should keep expanding your mind through learning. Start taking an interest in the things around you and continue learning through professional training and even others around you.
Surrounding yourself with people who emphasize perfection will encourage you to adopt a similar mindset. Closely analyze the individuals in your network to ascertain whether they’re perfectionists or strive for consistent progress.
As a leader, your feedback is crucial in shaping your team’s approach. Rather than giving feedback that seeks perfection, use them to acknowledge effort and progress. Even if the work is not flawless, celebrate the effort your team members have put into the project.
You should rework your goals so that they’re more adaptable, innovative, creative, and resilient. By simply using other words to set your expectations and goals, you’ll rewire your brain for a more progressive approach.
Being a progressive leader is not about sacrificing quality or disregarding standards altogether. It is about striking a balance between making continuous strides forward and acknowledging that perfection is an elusive goal.
As you learn to create this balance, you’ll be able to unlock an immense potential to create transformative solutions, build meaningful connections, and thrive in the dynamic world of business.