Some people believe that in order to be a great leader, it is necessary to be perfect. The reality is that great leaders aren’t perfect, they have probably fallen a time or two. In all likelihood, a great leader will have made mistakes along the way, learned from them and then extracted lessons to pass on to others.
I would much sooner follow a leader who has fallen and got back up than a leader that has never fallen. The reason is obviour; a leader who gets back up has to have learned valuable lessons in the low point of life and very obviously put those lessons to good use if he/she is now on the leadership track. They are probably able to go on and inspire others to overcome their own obstacles in life because they have been there. People in positions of authority who have never made mistakes seem a bit super human and face challenges gaining respect because of it.
In the military, there was a lot of respect for officers that had worked their way up through the ranks to become commissioned officers. The other route that was available was to get a university degree and then become an officer, never having been where the rubber hits the road. These officers had a much more difficult time gaining the respect of the troops because they were not considered to be tried and true and also because they were not “one of us”. As soldiers we trusted those who had been where we were, understood the challenges and could offer sound advice based on experience. Those who had taken the other route to leadership had a more difficult challenge.
The lesson is this – it’s not the mistakes that will hurt you, it is the failure to make them and learn from them that will do more harm.
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