Willard, an admitted perfectionist, overlooked tasks that were well-done and focused on fixing everything that did not meet his standards—even things that had little impact. One employee said, “Willard can walk into a room, spot a pencil laying in a corner and commence a ten-minute lecture on the value of an orderly workspace.”
Willard expressed his philosophy as, “I don’t want them to think that I’m ever pleased with their performance.”
Willard approached his weekly meetings like a hand grenade with the pin pulled. Staff expected to be chewed out for something that Willard perceived to be amiss or less than perfect. Employees began building elaborate defenses for their actions. And worse, a few members began hiding information and even falsifying data in attempts to avoid Willard’s wrath.
As pressure increased, performance dipped. Some good employees left. No one took initiative to solve problems and opportunities were ignored. Willard’s stress level increased and he had trouble sleeping, He feared that he was failing and began flailing even more.
Willard made his job hard by focusing on failures. Of course, effective leaders seek improvements and they correct mistakes quickly, but their major attention focuses on glorifying improvements and celebrating successes.