There is a quote by Todd Whitaker that I absolutely love. It goes like this, “Everything is a result of leadership. When things go wrong, it’s the leader. When things go right, it’s the leader. Real leaders know it, acknowledge it and embrace it.” The point of this quote is to express the importance of leadership taking responsibility. The problem is, many leaders will point fingers and place blame before humbling themselves and taking responsibility as a leader. When things go wrong, don’t look at those you lead, look in the mirror.
Ownership is key in leadership. Former Navy Seal, Jocko Willink, said in his book Extreme Ownership, “On any team, in any organization, all responsibility for success and failure rests with the leader. The leader must own everything in his or her world. There is no one else to blame. The leader must acknowledge mistakes and admit failures, take ownership of them, and develop a plan to win.” When leaders blame their team for things such as lack of success, division, poor performance, etc., they lose credibility and become an ineffective leader. Leaders who see problems and issues within their team should first look at themselves, take ownership of their faults and reflect on how they have failed their team. After all, a team is only as good as their leader, and if leadership never takes ownership, never reflects on their weaknesses and failures, and always points fingers and places blame, the team will eventually fall apart.
If you see a mass exodus from members of your team, you might want to reconsider your effectiveness as a leader, your priorities, your actions, your attitude; you might want to take a good hard look in the mirror and reflect on what you are not doing well. “After all, there can be no leadership where there is no team” (Jocko Willink). “The leaders that are too caught up in egotistical gratification rather than the development of their people will surely fall short in the long run. There is a major difference between true leadership and authority-driven management” (Matt Mayberry). Be cognisant of what is happening around you as a leader. Pay attention to your team, actively listen to what others have to say, gather as many perspectives as possible before making decisions, and never forget, when things go wrong, look at no one else but yourself.
Too many times I have seen leaders push blame, deny responsibility, and dictate rather than lead. I have seen what it does to teams and have witnessed the damage that takes place both emotionally and mentally. I cannot express enough the importance of leaders being servants rather than dictators. When we lead through service, the focus is on others. When we lead through dictatorship, the focus is on ourselves. Egocentric leadership destroys teams and ruins organizations. Servant focused leadership bolsters teams and empowers others to become better. Egocentric leadership lacks trust. Servant focused leadership not only trusts but supports and encourages others to lead.
Leaders, get a clue. People respect leaders who listen openly and respectively. People follow leaders who make decisions and choices based on input and perspective. People support leaders who openly support them. Take ownership of faults and failures, look in the mirror rather than point fingers and blame, sincerely reflect, actively listen, welcome multiple perspectives, and make decisions that better the team, not yourself. Lead through service. Destroy your ego before you destroy your team, company, or organization. Afterall, “Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another” (John C. Maxwell).