One of my clients - let's call him Ben - is a great manager. His team love working for him, he builds great working relationships with other departments and he has the full support and respect of his manager. We can be certain of this because as part of our work together, I solicited feedback on him from key stakeholders. One of the questions asked was to name Ben's greatest quality and describe its impact and value to the business.
As I reviewed the responses, there was a clear theme running through the answers to this question.
'Honesty', wrote one. 'Ben is completely straight with everyone he comes into contact with. There's no game-playing or politics.'
'Authenticity', said another. 'What you see is what you get. Ben doesn't try to hide stuff when it's not going right. He doesn't pretend or fake it.'
'Acceptance and openness', wrote a third. 'He realises that we're all human, that we make mistakes, that none of us is perfect, nor are our products whilst they're in development. In fact, he encourages us to flag up those mistakes and to see them as opportunities to learn. Consequently, our team seems to function more effectively and makes more progress, as we're not hung up on covering up problems.'
Over the last week, two things reminded me of Ben and his approach to life and work. The first was an image of beautifully repaired Japanese pottery which seemed to be doing the rounds on the internet last week – you can see some examples here on Lakeside Pottery’s site. Kintsukuroi literally means ‘gold repair’ and is the art of repairing a broken piece using gold lacquer.
Ben's approach to management, both of himself and of others, reminds me of this technique, which doesn't shy away from flaws but repairs them visibly. This acknowledges that the flaws occurred but also acknowledges that their repair leads to the finished product being even better than when it was apparently perfect.
And that leads me on to the second reminder. In the days since Leonard Cohen's death, it seemed that two of his songs were being played most frequently: Hallelujah and Anthem. The chorus of Anthem goes like this:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
Whether it's a problem with a product or a human error that's been made, Ben sees flaws as illuminating and opportunities to learn and make progress.
I’ll leave you with a question to ponder: could a willingness to reveal your flaws help you create something even better, whether that's in your work or in your home life?
Michelle Rogers is a professional and personal development coach who’s passionate about helping others realise their potential so that they can feel fulfilled and successful, whether that's at work or at home.
Having qualified with The OCM in 2008, Michelle coached internally at a media group as well as setting up Thinking Space. She works with individuals and businesses who are ready for change.
You can learn more about Michelle, read her blog and get in touch, by going to her website: Thinkingspace.