Is it realistic to think that there is such a thing as a perfect leader?
The other night I was watching the movie Hangover 2 and in one scene someone said "he looks so good, he must have been photoshopped" - meaning he looked perfect. After laughing, this made me think of leaders and if I had ever heard anyone say a leader was too good to be true.
Photoshop by Adobe is the industry standard in graphics-imaging programs and is used by amateurs and professionals worldwide for design, photography, video editing and more.
It gives the user the ability to touch-up an image by removing all of the imperfection and making it look perfect. In other words, this program can take the reality out of reality. Well, today we have good news and bad news. All of the images and books that portray perfect leaders are really presenting photoshop replicas. There is no such thing as a perfect leader.
This is good news. Just as a teenage girl should not see a model on the cover of Vogue and give up on her own natural beauty, leaders should not hold themselves to an impossible standard.
The image presented of even our best leaders is better than the reality.
But the fact that there is not a perfect leader does not provide an excuse to be a jerk. Keep in mind that you still can be a great leader - maybe not perfect - and strive to be the best you can be, knowing that the quality of your leadership has the greatest impact on your employees and their performance. For employees, this is bad news, as you need to remove the mystical idea that there is a perfect leader. Just like everyone else, leaders are human and unfortunately they are prone to make some mistakes.
Sure it would be great to be able to graphically enhance our leaders, improve their behaviour and capabilities and remove all imperfections.
But this is not reality. We need to reject the mythical imaging.
However, this does not mean you should just allow your leaders to constantly mess up and get away with behaviour that is unbecoming for a leader or even the average human. I believe that every employee has the right to have a great - or at the very least good - leader. Don't settle for anything less.
While there is no such thing as a perfect leader, recent research shows that leadership effectiveness in the GCC is an abysmal 47 per cent.
There is obvious room for improvement. Attention and investment needs to be directed at developing leaders who are at least good and hopefully great - without the use of photoshop. Nature is always more poignant than an edited photograph.
Dr Tommy Weir, an authority on fast-growth and emerging-market leadership, is the author of The CEO Shift and the managing director of the Emerging Markets Leadership Center