Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Handling Success and the Leader

In my model of leadership the leader is accountable for everything that happens or fails to happen in his organization.  There is no question this comes from my training at West Point and my experience as an Army officer  As a practical matter, this means the leader will get credit for some things that they only influence indirectly...likewise the leader is held accountable for bad things that occur even when their influence is equally indirect. If you are the kind of leader who takes credit for successes and "throws people under the bus" when mistakes happen you will never have sustainable success.
 So my second leadership principle on the list to the right is...  when things go well, put your people forward to take the credit; when things go bad-step up and take your licks.  Why is this important?
First of all, any success you have in the organization will be the result of a team effort and the larger the organization it will likely be more than one team working together.  Chances are there will be some group of people who do the "real work".  They know and you know who did the real work to bring success to life.  You also know that eventually you will get the credit for their efforts.  Publicly acknowledging their role builds trust and confidence in you as a leader. When you put those people forward who did the "heavy lifting" and acknowledge their contribution you reinforce the notion that it's not "all about you". 
Likewise, when you step up and take accountability when the outcome isn't positive it likewise reinforces that sense of trust and confidence.  When you "take one for the team"... when they know you will stand up with them, ...for them... and indeed... in front of them, and take your licks when they err, you generate incalculable loyalty.

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