How to Survive and Thrive in Imperfect Organizations

You’re surrounded by imperfection. Everyone has a handful of strengths and a bucketful of weaknesses.

If strengths smelled like warm cookies and weaknesses smelled like wet dog, everyone would stink.

Overcome frustration with imperfection by accepting imperfection in yourself AND others.

3 truths about acceptance:

  1. Acceptance isn’t approval.
  2. Acceptance isn’t giving up.
  3. Acceptance is the foundation for influence and improvement.

You can’t antagonize and influence at the same time.

Say it out loud:

I accept my boss.

I accept my organization.

I accept the people on my team.

Four options If you can’t accept your imperfect boss, organization, or team.

  1. Get a new boss.
  2. Get a new team.
  3. Get a new organization.
  4. First, change yourself.


Frustrated people focus on changing others. But success begins when you first change yourself.

Work to change yourself before working to change others.

  • “What should I do?” comes before, “They should.”
  • “How might I change?” comes before, “They need to change.”
  • “What can I learn?” comes before, “I need to teach them.”

Meddle with yourself before you meddle with others.

Reflection questions:

  • You’re frustrated with silos in your organization. What are you allowing that causes or sustains silos?
  • You feel left out of the loop. How are you leaving people out of the loop?
  • A team member irritates you. How might this team member reflect something that needs to change in you?
  • Lack of clear direction at work frustrates you. How might you seek direction?
  • Others are boring. What if you’re boring?

Reflecting on imperfection in others is self-affirming. But self-reflection is where growth begins.

You may be superior to others, but leaders don’t stand aloof.

Today’s projects:

Walk around honoring and respecting the good, even while improving deficiencies.

When irritated, think, “Who do I need to become so I can lead imperfect others?”

How might leaders survive and thrive in imperfect organizations?