Conventional management wisdom suggests that setting a high bar for employees is a good thing. But when employees can never reach that bar, those high standards turn in bitterness and unrealized potential.

Approximately 35% of executives fail because of a tendency toward perfection. That’s because achievement-oriented leaders tend to be chronically dissatisfied. As a perfectionist, you may be thinking that you’re just pushing your team to be the best, but you may be setting them up to fail.

Step back and reconsider whether your constant pushing may have unwanted side effects, such as:

Disappointment in yourself. It’s often not just your direct reports you hold to an unreasonably high standard. If the narrative is one of inadequacy or you struggle to take pride in your accomplishments and abilities, it may be a sign that your high standards have warped your self-perception.

Loss of self-confidence in others. If your high standards are causing others to feel inadequate, eventually they lose confidence and stop trying.

Little organizational resilience. When a team is continually feeling second-guessed or criticized, people become paralyzed rather than creative when facing challenges.

As leaders, we have the opportunity to unleash the most exceptional contributions of others. Appropriately raising the bar allows others to grow as your organization progresses, but if your standards are too harsh, you may inadvertently hurt others. Find out why, and learn to use your discontent for the good of those you lead.


Inspired by: Harvard Business Review - Are Your High Expectations Hurting Your Team? By Ron Carucci