At the end of all my workshops, I always go around the room and ask what one thing each participant took away from the program. It is a great way for people to identify what they felt was valuable and what actions they may want to take to help them grow their leadership. This week was no exception and one brave individual shared:
“ I realized for the first time that I too was contributing to the problem. It wasn’t only the other departments who were causing the issues.”
“Wow!” I responded. “That was pretty incredible for you to admit.”
How many times have we blamed someone else for creating an obstacle when we ourselves were part of the disconnect? How many times have you taken the monkey off your back to place it on someone else’s?
Whether we are leading a large team or are sole entrepreneurs, we can get caught up in the enticing “blame game”. It is so easy to assume that others are at fault for mistakes on projects or are causing deadlines to be missed, even when we know we also have contributed to the error. By finding fault in what everyone else should have done differently, rather than identifying our part in the problem, we are not leading. We are not facing the truth that we too need to hold ourselves accountable.
When leaders swap out blaming others for holding themselves accountable they:
1. CREATE A WORKPLACE OF TRUST
When team members take responsibility for their jobs by owning a piece of a problem, they are showing their vulnerabilities. They are being honest about how their actions may have added to a glitch, by admitting the truth. In teams and collaborations where people are forthcoming, there is more transparency and trust.
2. CONFIDENTLY SHARE THEIR EXPERTISE
We each bring unique talents and gifts to our work and volunteer situations that those around us can benefit and grow from. If we choose to share our knowledge and experience, we will resolve challenges more readily and successfully. When we participate in the blame game, the best wisdom is often overlooked.
3. BUILD RELATIONSHIPS
A great by-product of each person being accountable is that everyone feels responsible for something bigger than their own individual jobs. A new attitude starts to permeate across the team- “We are all in this together and we want to make this a success.” Relationships become deeper and we are willing to do more for one another, even if that means additional work.
4. MODEL STEPPING UP
Leading from wherever we are means taking the steps to make things happen and not waiting for someone else on our team or in another department to act first. The participant in my workshop realized that if she came up with some new guidelines for her team and the other areas, she could alleviate the issues that the customer was frustrated with. She had it within her control to spearhead the change.
5. BRING DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES TOGETHER
Think of being accountable as a perfect way to brainstorm solutions with people from different vantage points. It is an opportunity to listen to new ways of thinking about the problem that would have never entered our minds. When different possibilities are collected and we stay open minded to alternative approaches, the resolution will be richer and inclusive, free of blame.
What are some ways you have put accountability high on your list? How has the blame game tripped you up?
(photo credit: Flickr CC- Ian)
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