“But Your Life Looks So Perfect on Facebook”

January 28, 2013 — 11 Comments

angst 300x300 But Your Life Looks So Perfect on FacebookI just got off the phone with an old friend.  She had several important concerns weighing on her heart.  We talked about them for a while, and then she shared:

You know I was talking to another friend about this and she said, “but your life looks so perfect on Facebook.”

I took a quick look at her Facebook page.  Of course it did.  It’s Facebook.   Who wants to put their troubles out there for the world to see?   All those great pics are absolutely true.  Much in her life is fantastic.  And, like every single one of us, other parts are messy.

So What’s This Got To Do With Leadership?

As leaders we work hard to present a “together” image.  How this shows up varies on the organization, context and culture.

Maybe it’s…

  • the right shoes
  • perfectly organized meetings
  • perfectly put together wardrobes
  • perfectly polished speeches
  • stories of how your bold career moves worked out just right
  • an office full of awards
  • happy pictures of your happy family
  • …?

I’ll pause here to let you fill in the blank for your world.  What is your organization’s equivalent to “looking good on Facebook.”

The truth is, you are also messy.  I am also messy.  Every member of your team is messy.  Life is messy.

We want to believe our leaders have it all together.

We are inspired to think that “perfect” is achievable.

“Perfect” can also be intimidating.

Beyond the “Facebook” Fantasy

What if you…

  • Shared a bit more of your real journey?
  • Anticipated the angst your team members must have in their lives?
  • Made it okay to show up real.
  • Make it safe for your team to talk about the angst?
  • Don’t hold “it” against them.
  • ?

What’s the danger in appearing too perfect?

See Also: 

 I Choose To Go First (Writer, Speaker, Mom, Michele’s Cuchatt shares her inspiring story of the value of self-disclosure)


The Debate Continues:  4 Reasons For More Transparency

Hot Mess Leadership

Get Real:  Take Your Conversations to the Next Level


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11 responses to “But Your Life Looks So Perfect on Facebook”

  1. On the back of our staff shirts a few years ago we had this printed on them.

    We May Not Have It All Together, But Together We Have It All.

    Staff still refer to that quote from time to time.

    Be honest and transparent as a leader helps your team feel safe to approach you. The danger in appearing too perfect…you’ll scare away creative thinkers and you’ll intimidate the one who needs to ask an important question.

    • Eric, what a great slogan for your shirts. That also sent such a great message to your campers. What will they say this summer?

      • No idea yet. We will craft the shirt during staff training in May. I’ve discovered that the staff are 2000% more likely to wear a shirt outside of camp they design vs a shirt I design. They are also always very creative.

  2. I think leaders refrain from showing constituents their real self because they’ll be perceived as vulnerable. Even weak.

    Vulnerability and humility are the greatest qualities of Level 5 leaders, according to Jim Collins in “Good to Great.”

    Followers will run through a brick wall for a leader that’s humble.

    p.s. Feeling a little under the weather this Monday morning. Send me some good karma to make this a 12 hour bug. ;-p

  3. Its great to let your followers know your also Human and not superman, that you face similar challanges like they do and you even make mistakes, this has a way of encouraging your followers to be the best they can be, and not be depressed when they fall below their set standards but to learn their lessons and move on. Their is no perfect Leader anywhere, we r all a huge work ɪ̣̝̇π Progress.

    • Kenneth, So great to have you join the conversation with your insights. Agreed. Showing up a bit more human creates connection…and makes leadership feel more achievable for those aspiring to bigger roles.

  4. Just another great example of how leaders can continue to have leadership training. I really like that t-shirt slogan too, Eric. :)

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

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