The Thinker by Rodin


When I was researching current leaders that exemplified the attributes I was writing about for LIFTOFF LEADERSHIP, I repeatedly ran into a dilemma. It seemed that just as soon as I had found a great example of someone with integrity, when I dug deeper I found some dirt. The same was true for accountability, balance and altruism.

When I was researching altruism, I would look up recognized names and find beautiful examples of their unselfish contributions to the greater good. And then in a discussion with someone they would say, did you know that that person misrepresented information on a financial statement? Or did you know that that person’s organization is being cited for an EPA violation ?

More often than not otherwise stellar leaders are guilty of some type of malfeasance or personal missteps along the path.

There are a very few exceptions. Even the greatest leaders of all time, Gandhi and Nelson Mandela come to mind, had personal infractions of doing the right thing.

The truth is that we all make mistakes. None of us are perfect.

What differentiates exceptional leaders, is their willingness to admit to  and take pro-active and authentic action to overcome and rise above their weaknesses.

It is the leader who can say, I was wrong and I learned from it that is worth emulating. It is the leader who is self-aware and dedicated to personal growth that garners our trust.

The PERFECT LEADER is the one who often has a past that is a little messy. The PERFECT LEADER is the one who can authentically, with humility admit to mistakes and doesn’t try to hide them.

We don’t need leaders who do everything they can to suppress their truth as a person and present a false public image. We need leaders who are courageous enough to stand up to their frailties with humility and a genuine desire to become a better leader, a better person.

The perfect leader is the one who has the wisdom to recognize our common humanity of imperfection. She is the one who can encourage others to join her in rising above personal weaknesses, always seeking to increase her capacity to learn and holding on to a commitment to delivering her personal best.

The perfect leader is the one who appreciates imperfection for it is in our flaws that the seeds for new growth are found.

Betty Shotton

I am a product of my achievements

…and my failures

About LiftOff Leadership

Betty Shotton is a nationally recognized leadership author and motivational speaker. With a lifetime of experience as a CEO and Entrepreneur, she is passionate about the responsibility and opportunity that leadership has to create a magnificent future. Her audiences are inspired to seek broader perspectives and climb to higher altitudes as they face challenging and volatile business & economic climates. Her most requested presentations are A Journey to Exceptional Leadership, Defying Gravity & High Altitude Leadership. You can see her in action on YouTube ( She blogs ( and writes. "Liftoff Leadership, 10 Principles for Exceptional Leadership", her first book, sold out in 18 months. She is working on her next. Visit her website www.liftoffleadership; it is loaded with leadership resources. She welcomes your interest via FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
This entry was posted in A Crisis in Leadership, ALTRUISM, Authenticity, Choice, Integrity, Leadership Book, Leadership Values, LIFTOFF LEADERSHIP 10 Principles for Exceptional Leadership, Trust and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *