If you’re wondering if you are perfect enough to provide great leadership, you’re on the wrong playing field. That’s not the game that the best leaders play. You do not need to strive for “perfection” because the very act of doing that takes your eye off the ball. Here are some wise words from two world-renown leaders that will point you to the field where you need to be playing: 

“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” —Harvey S. Firestone

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” —Ronald Reagan

Furthermore, a book I edited and published for David Kauffman details the most successful leadership approach: People-Centered Leadership.

That being said (i.e., focus on empowering vs. managing those you wish to lead), the truth is that you have to have something going for you in order to have followers—people who will listen to you, or be persuaded by anything at all you have to say. You know this. You graze all day on self-improvement: articles, podcasts, TED talks, books, input from your coach. 

It turns out there are three (as typical) things you can focus on that will fortify yourself as a leader. Yes, you can find more, but start here, with these three, today:

  1. A great leader does reps to build their mindset muscle every day. Identify what helps you to have an optimistic, confident, resilient attitude, and engage with those things early and often, each day. This is nutritious and helpful in building mindset muscle; conversely, refrain from the tasty “junk food” that messes with your mindset—things like gossip, complaining, or worrying. By the way, worrying is poison to mindset—it’s the habit of dwelling on a future you DON’T want.


2. A great leader keeps their own side of the street clean. Know that every chip from the armor of your integrity will weaken your effectiveness as a leader. The larger your ambition, the stronger your integrity must be for you to succeed. I recommend the book I published for Bob Carroll: Building your Leadership Legacy: It’s All About Character

I also recommend that you consider a saying from 12-step programs: “You’re as sick as your secrets.” Anything, big or small, that you feel any degree of shame around is a clue for you to take action. Resolve each thing, whether it’s akin to “I never told my husband I gave up a child for adoption when I was 18—and that now I’m searching for my son,” or, “I no longer invite friends over for dinner or card games because I’m embarrassed at how I’ve let the house go…the clutter is overwhelming.” 

Can you see how these “hidden items” drain your good energies, the very ones you need to draw from in every leadership role?

3. A great leader fully understands the two above quotations about empowering others. Think about a top-level coach, like someone who would be hired by a person who wants to win a gold medal in the Olympics. The perfect coach empowers the athlete to perform excellently—they themselves do not need to be able to dunk a basketball, somersault backwards on a balance beam, nor perform the world’s most graceful swan dive. Yet all serious athletes use a coach. Be the kind of leader who attracts people who want to do their best and feel that you help them to do that. 

You do not need to strive for “perfection” because the very act of doing that takes your eye off the ball. Be the best version of yourself you can be, while focusing on people who you want to influence through empowerment. 

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