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Leadership by Mistakes and Imperfections
Ali Salman


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Leaders develop a bad habit of becoming a model. They start believing and practicing ‘leading by example’. However there is a flip side of leading by example, which means making people dependent on your examples and hence rendering them ineffective. They start idealizing the leaders and losing self-confidence. They become creatures of communication: whatever the leader says is right and a must. I propose, therefore, leading by doing mistakes, instead of leading by examples. Leadership by examples has many problems. It is individualized and hence non-systematic. It creates jealousies and hence lack of co-operation. On the top, it is tiring. On the other hand, leadership by mistakes, and I mean deliberate mistakes of course, is humane. It makes your team members realize that you are a normal person, and hence can be at fault. It generates a confidence in your team, which then shows eagerness to help you in coming out of crisis.

Leadership by mistakes is in fact a key to institutionalization. Institutions are built by people, and examples are just a sign-post. If you emphasize too much on charisma, models and ideals, you will soon become exhausted and labelled either as a saint or a cynic. Both these images are not helpful in dealing with humans. Therefore, if you still like the word ‘example’, try introducing your mistake as an example. However, these mistakes should not become a regular practice, otherwise there is a high probability of being charge-sheeted!


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