Aha! Moment Monday
How would you define a leader?
Someone who sets the tone? Someone who architects the grand design?
When we hear the term “leaders” we often think of a notable who stands out in the crowd – leaders of people, leaders of industries, leaders in technology or science or education – and who possess specific qualities like risk-taking, ingenuity, and the ability to rally teams and just do it.
Entrepreneurial leaders are often ones who, “Fail faster. Succeed sooner”, as David Kelley, founder of IDEO Product Design would call it. Leaders also want to make a difference. Their vision of themselves and their companies includes making the world just a little better as a result of their work and their existence.
Leaders look for opportunity, are change agents, and leaders make mistakes! Most importantly, leaders make no bones about it!
Regardless of the style of leadership, there is one quality that sets true leaders apart from those who simply lead.
Aha! ~ Leaders take responsibility.
“To play the ‘blame-game’ destroys the credibility of the blamer-leader faster than any other single act.” writes Tom Peters in Re-imagine! Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age.
Now understand that blame from a ‘scapegoat’ standpoint is different than blame from a responsibility standpoint. Assigning blame in order to separate yourself from the problem can impact your perceived ability to have a positive influence on the solution. On the other hand, retrospective analysis and corrective action are hallmarks of responsible action; action adopted by growing companies and strong leaders. They’re not afraid to have those tough conversations to come to a deeper shared sense of what’s going on and what – without assumptions and blame – will improve performance.
Leaders create not followers, but new leaders. In order to do that, leaders need to take responsibility for words, protocols, decisions (good or bad), outcomes (good or bad), circumstances (good or bad), and continually move forward with a new normal that’s stronger than the last. It happens by climbing one rung of truth after the next.
It’s easy to blame others, blame conditions, or even blame luck. But when you shift responsibility away from yourself, it’s like missing the steps of the very rungs that allow you to climb to new heights.
We all can be leaders – we all should be leaders – begin by leading yourself.