The World Demands Perfection, Yet Craves Authenticity

It’s a paradox, isn’t it?

You want to exude executive presence – yet still be genuine. You want to hone your speaking and influence skills – but not appear manipulative. You want to inspire top performance from others – yet not drive away top talent with your demands.

How do you balance the polarities of perfection and authenticity to lead at your peak level?

Like the rest of us, the super achievers I coach every day feel that the pressures of society and their work are constantly knocking them off-center. They worry about how they’re coming across.

In today’s hyper-connected, social-media–fueled world, public figures are immediately mocked for any perceived mistake or slip-up. Society tends to tear down anyone who seems too perfect. The truth, of course, is that we’re all human—so we all make mistakes. That means no one can be perfect and authentic. But that doesn’t stop us from trying.

As a recovering perfectionist, I’ve struggled with this for years. When I look back on my two decades on television, I’m amazed that I survived with my sanity intact. I’d set off a feeding frenzy of internet snipers when, heaven forbid, a hair got out of place. So I shellacked my locks to minimize criticism. My hair didn’t move – it was teased, it was lacquered, it was a helmet. (Hey, it was the late 80’s – that’s my excuse.) And yet, beneath the façade, I was still expected to come across as warm and authentic. My Q-score – a measure of popularity that can determine whether a television personality keeps the job or gets the boot – depended on it.

What’s real and what’s a façade in your life? And how does this impact your leadership?

I’ll share more in my next post. Just thought I’d give you a little something to think about this week. I encourage you to take stock of when you’re expected to be both human and superhuman at the very same time.

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Globally recognized as the leading voice in leadership influence, Connie Dieken helps C-suite and senior executives use scientific insights to elevate their influence and presence.


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