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Limiting Leadership

While there have been several points of growth I’ve identified for myself in the past few months, and while I’m foremost committed to a new way of being of self-love and confidence, I’ve also faced up to my former style of leadership.

I’ve always included the following description in resumes and cover letters: I’m a leader that enjoys working as part of a team. Yet, it struck me a few months ago that this is startlingly false.

Let me explain with an example. My last semester of college I took a beginner’s level history course because, 1) I could, and 2) I figured the lighter load would free up time for my senior research. At the beginning of the semester, we were assigned groups with whom we would complete multiple projects and presentations. I worked with a group of three guys, all of whom had at least a slight interest in the subject, WWI, which was more than I had.

Here’s what was supposed to happen: collaboration. Here’s what happened: I repeatedly completed the group work myself (and didn’t exactly free up as much time as I could have.)

My rationale was that 1) I always complete an assignment as soon as I get it so that it is done and I can move on to the next task, 2) These boys weren’t necessarily looking to complete the projects on the same timeline, and 3) If I did all the work, I could ensure that it was done accurately.

My professor knew I did all the work. He even called me out on it after our second presentation. He looked right at me and said, “That was a great presentation, and everyone spoke, but I have a feeling you did all the work.”

I had denied my group the chance to receive a grade we earned, a chance to explore a topic that could potentially interest them, and probably came off as totally psycho.

Looking back, I recognize that this has been characteristic of many of my leadership experiences. Let me do all the work so that I can know that it is perfect.

Brené Brown believes, and I agree, that perfectionism is a shield against vulnerability. She writes, “Perfectionism is not the key to success. In fact, research shows that perfectionism hampers achievement.”

Striving for perfection excludes my teammates, workmates, whomever, and denies the possibilities that their contributions could bring. It goes against one of the tenets of Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga that I’ve come to love, leave people in their own greatness.

I’m glad that I’m owning up to this. I can now allow myself to actually work with others, and let them support me as leader as much as I support them. I am open to recognizing that everyone has strengths, and that these can counter-balance others’ weaker areas. I am also (and I am writing this here so I can be held accountable) open to giving up my death grip on control and letting someone else be the leader in a group.

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2 thoughts on “Limiting Leadership

  1. I am amazed at you! It took me so much longer to realize these things about myself. It is a constant fight, but so worth the effort. Just watch out for the other control freaks out there. They will never understand you. Bravo!

    Love, Mom

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