Sheila (not her real name) is a hard-working, faithful leader who loves the people she leads. Her supervisor commented to me about Sheila's effectiveness.
"I keep hearing about another side of Sheila," I said. "I don't know exactly why, but evidence is mounting that she is very critical of the people she works with."
"I thought it was just me," said the supervisor. "I know that Sheila has a problem with me, but I figured it was just a personality clash. I let it go because she seems so well-liked by the group she is responsible for."
We continued our conversation and the supervisor acknowledged that Sheila, while she has some great skills, has regularly repelled co-workers. She has had some very good team members at her side, but they keep leaving. Why? Sheila is a perfectionist complainer.
She is good at what she does and holds herself to a very high standard. That makes it easy for her supervisors to ignore her dark side. Her perfectionism and her frequent complaints about other people gradually cause her coworkers to lose heart and quit. The problem: they don't say why they're leaving. Sheila is so polished in her work that they don't dare speak ill of her. They may not even be aware of why it's so difficult to continue serving with her.
Perfectionism makes Sheila blind to her own weakness. Consequently, she isn't very "coachable." It doesn't seem likely that she will change because she genuinely thinks the rapid loss of team members is from their lack of commitment. If she doesn't change, she becomes too much of a liability and must be asked to step down.
Leadership author John Maxwell says that "Attitude Skills" are essential for good leaders. When someone fails to maintain a positive attitude, they are "Leadership Poison."
What is your experience with "perfectionist complainers?"