Leadership credibility: It’s good to be fallible

by on March 15, 2010 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Cafe

Ever noticed that really successful people love to tell everybody how bad they are at certain things?

The first CEO I ever worked for never missed a chance to tell people she was horribly disorganized.

Another was quick to tell people he was pathetic at learning software products.

Why do high achievers do this? Aren’t they afraid they’ll lose credibility with those around them?

No. In fact, they know a secret that you may, or may not, have figured out yet. When you admit you’re fallible, you actually GAIN credibility. It’s called “The Fallibility Paradox.

That first CEO I mentioned earlier succeeded because she was an amazing salesperson who developed a vast network of client relationships. When she told people she was disorganized, it ENHANCED her credibility. I remember thinking one day, “It takes a lot of confidence to admit her weakness. But it shows self-knowledge, and in a strange way it accentuates how good she is at selling.”

High achievers aren’t just playing a manipulative game when they admit their flaws. They’re modeling the way for those who aspire to be like them. The message is: Figure out what you’re REALLY good at and focus all your energy on developing that quality. And count on those around you to help you out with the stuff you’re not good at.

photo credit: Kumar Appaiah

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