There is a difference in leaders at the level of position and those at the level of permission.
The difference is the level of honesty and openness the leader displays when dealing with his team. When you’re a positional leader, it’s easy to just find out what the rules are and shrug as you enforce them on everyone. When you reach the level of permission, you have to rise above that kind of thinking.
A crucial part of understanding what it really means to be honest is to understand others like you do yourself. Face it, you have strengths and you also have weaknesses. You’re messy at best, but if you manage yourself well, somehow you’ll pull through. You expect others to accept you warts and all.
If you want to be a great leader, you have to apply the same standard to others.
I had a conversation with a customer who was describing her son, who is borderline autistic. She told me, “He has issues”. I nodded and then added, “We’re all complex. Men want to say they’re not. But they are.”
When we fail to admit that we’re complex and imperfect, we’re really admitting we don’t want to deal with that messiness. Besides, if we do, won’t that open a Pandora’s box of problems we can’t escape from?
But if you ever expect to grow, you’ve got to face that fear. It won’t go away until you do. You’ll never improve until you do. Your influence will be limited until they know you understand and that you care.
This is the reality of our world. We’d all like to think that we can be perfect. And maybe you can do it right for a while. But then, inevitably, something challenges you. Someone messes up. Maybe it’s you. There could be a chain reaction of mistakes.
But this is okay.
Why, you say? Are you nuts? Maybe. But listen to this. When you take risks, you grow. You have to give the wheel to someone and trust them with it. If they know that you’ll support them as they learn, chances are they’ll work hard not to disappoint you.
Failure isn’t final. It’s an event and events come to an end. Tomorrow’s a new day, a fresh start.
So press on through the messiness. Then you’ll grow as a leader.