written by Lady Mary Malinski, the High Maiden of ATC-Canada


When someone achieves a position of leadership, whether it be in a workplace, government, or spiritual organization, there are certain expectations that come with that responsibility.

“Where there is great power there is great responsibility.” ~Winston Churchill

falling-off-pedestalWe like to think that we choose our leaders from among the best of us, when we get to choose. When we don’t get to choose, we hope that those who do the choosing have done so wisely.

So it is only natural that we hold our leaders to a higher moral and ethical standard. Leaders are supposed to be shining examples of what we can be: knowledgeable, gracious, kind, wise, honest… I could go on, and you get the idea.

What happens when our leaders don’t live up to the lofty expectations we set for them?

There are a couple of possibilities. Some may condemn the leader, saying that they are no longer fit to lead. Some may make excuses for the leader, saying that it was out of character, or that there was a misunderstanding. Others may turn a blind eye completely, refusing to acknowledge any mistakes.

The problem isn’t (always*) with the leader themselves. It often lies with our expectations – the expectation of perfection.

*There are some people who become leaders who let the power go to their heads, or who lack a moral compass that fits with the rest of society. I’m not talking about that type of leader.

“With great power comes great responsibility.” ~ Spider Man

When we put a leader on a pedestal, and expect them to be perfect, eventually they are going to fall off that pedestal. Because those leaders are still human beings, and humans are not perfect. Well, perfect in their imperfections. Humans are fallible. We make mistakes.

Some mistakes are bigger than others. And some decisions that look like mistakes are really choices for which we may not understand all the background. Therefore we judge without understanding.

It’s important to remember that our leaders are not superheroes. They may strive for perfection, yet they are still human. They are self conscious, and they feel fear, and all the same emotions that the rest of us feel. They swear and cry and yell now and then, just like the rest of us. And yes, they sometimes make mistakes.

When you put your leaders on a pedestal, you are really setting yourself up for disappointment. Because one way or another, that leader will not be able to live up to your expectations forever.

You rob yourself of the opportunity to get to know the real person behind the face of leadership – the sense of humor behind the stern face; the insecurities behind the confidence; the dreams behind the vision.

So the next time you think someone is perfect, please think twice before placing them on a pedestal. Our leaders are human, too.