Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Break Free of Perfectionism

Customers, clients, businesses and organizations everywhere are seeking excellence. By achieving excellence profit and success are sure to follow. But, a leader's intense pursuit of excellence can easily and quickly degenerate into a fixation on failure-free work, which is also known as perfectionism.

Statements such as, "...failure is not an option..." or "...we only want to hear solutions..." or "...let's talk when you reach your goal..." are strong indicators that your leader has slipped into the dangerous world of perfectionism. Behaviors begin to change and become more intolerant of mistakes and is often seen as an inability to accept even the smallest errors. Impatience for any activity that is executed in any manner other than quick and efficient is characteristic of a perfectionist.

Some of the behaviors employees have observed in a boss or manager who is a perfectionist, include:
  • Critical
  • Impatient
  • Unapproachable
  • Unforgiving
  • Stressed
  • Unwilling to celebrate success

People with this charactertic can, however, break free from the negative effects of perfectionism by following just a few steps.

  1. Identify what is the most important tasks or projects. Perfectionists tend to magnify the importance of small tasks and simple procedures.
  2. Set clear and realistic expectations. Employees not only feel hopeless, but will become discouraged when their leader holds them to impossibly high standards. A leader should communicate goals that are firmly grounded in reality and with clarity.
  3. Avoid perfectionist triggers. Learn to identify the factors or conditions that lead to perfectionist thinking and triggers. Learn and implement behaviors and tactics that shift the thinking to excellence and away from those minute, or insigificant tasks that are not part of the "big picture."
  4. Take baby steps. Breaking this habit is one that is best done by taking it in small, easy to implement, baby steps. By taking smaller, more meaningful steps intended towards mastering excellence, not perfectionism, will empower not only the leader, but the employee, to reach their goals and full potential.

A mindset of excellence is much healthier and more productive than that of perfectionism. The differences in these two concepts may seem subtle at first, but the results and outcomes are substantial. Take time today to conduct a reality check and ask yourself, before becoming frantic, what is really important or at stake. Is the frustration equal to the magnitude of the problem? If it is not, then employ the tactics needed to steer away from perfectionistic behaviors that will surely spell doom to any task or project.

(This article adapted from the works of Jamie S. Walters. To read the complete article, click here.)

Source: http://LeadershipSecrets.blogspot.com

Copyright M. A. Webb, 2004-2006. All Rights Reserved

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