“How much are you getting done?”
Have you ever heard this round-the-clock and overused question?
Leaders can persistently ask this peculiar question without thoroughly thinking it through.
Like many other phrases and questions we memorise and monologue throughout our lives without thinking, this one stealthily slips through the net unscrutinised frequently. Contradictorily, for an effective and plentiful outcome in performance the question a leader ought to be asking is, ‘what did you get done?’
And here lies the conundrum.
There is a certain segment of leaders who are sequentially blinded by the seduction of a perfectionist’s work who seemingly ploughs through every single task without asking for any help whatsoever. The discreet deception and discoloration veiled by the notion of ‘lots of work being done’ by a perfectionist has a subtle and yet significant impact on the results thereof.
When such a blindfolded question is presented to a perfectionist, the outcome will always be deceptively dire. The greater tragedy is that neither will realise that they are unproductive and as a result underperforming. A bit like a farmer pulling his plough painfully by hand in the concealed conviction that tractors don’t exist!
Priority over quantity is a constant battle and stressful affair for a perfectionist but it is cunningly camouflaged under continuous hard work. They must attend to everything and everyone. A perfectionist lives under an oppressive illusion that compels them to perform ‘above and beyond’ the required amount all the time! Is it sensible to execute small and insignificant tasks with painstakingly hard work all the time? The reader may know the answer to this but a leader might not…the spell of ‘lots of work’ can comfortably stupefy.
Do you know of a perfectionist in your team? Have you ever noticed how distressed they are when they try to meet every demand all on their own? Perfectionists find it difficult to delegate as everything has to be executed in ‘a certain and specific way.’ leading psychologists in the area of perfectionism, Paul Hewitt and Gordon Flett along with the World Health Organisation have even tied mental health issues, anxiety and depression
to perfectionism. (An excessively high expectation of one’s self is too much to bear over the long haul).
Business leaders and organisations are often unaware of a perfectionist in their workplace, as all they see is a ‘hard working individual’ who says ‘i’ll do it all,’ all of the time…
Little do business leaders know that in order to implement everything and that too in a specific manner, perfectionists actually under perform in the marathon of work life.
Signing up as a butler to every task they consequently compromise two very key areas.
A perfectionist blurs the borders between important and not so important tasks and blinds a leader in the process. The compulsion to ‘do it all’ lends them a scarcity of insight that ‘there are bigger fish to fry.’ Compromising the crucial tasks costs not only them but the leadership above them and the business overall.
The first step to unpacking the leadership perfectionist conundrum is awareness. Once the clouds are cleared a comprehensive plan can be charted out for an enhanced performance resulting in effective productivity.
A leadership coach carefully carves away at the deception a leader is drawn to when there’s a perfectionist in the room. It’s the clinical role of a coach to highlight all the disguises that can make a leader borderline delusional when there’s ‘lots of work’ happening.
And perfectionists can unlearn the habits of “doing it all a certain way and all on my own” through kind but candid questions. “What is the underlying fear of letting some things go? Where did you learn the lie that if everything is not at a certain standard it equates to failure? How and why does the certainty of a certain outcome make you feel in control? What does control look like to you? And so on…
Slowly and carefully a Leadership coach can help the Business leader not only peel away at the scales over their own eyes but the perfectionist’s too and performance and productivity begin to take new heights just as the farmer who finally realises that there are tractors after all!