There are those who say that if being a leader was easy, anyone could do it. It takes commitment, skill and consistency to be a good leader, and a leader people want to follow. Yet, human nature can interfere with and derail a good leader, as well as business and personal relationships. Being a good leader takes a keen awareness to manage the responsibility for your actions, and those of your team or organization. The same can be said for having effective relationships.
What do those derailers look like?
Excuse making– Making excuses is an easy and tempting habit to fall into. There are reasons and then there are excuses. When leaders commonly make excuses for why they or their team did not get a task or project completed it makes people question a leaders commitment and his or her leadership skills. It also frustrates people in relationships when they cannot count on you.
Finger pointing– As with excuse making, this behavior will make you look weak and immature and show a blind spot in your leadership abilities. Finger pointing is another way to dodge responsibility and in most people’s minds, the buck stops with the leader. Throwing others under the bus when a task or project does not get completed on time will undermine your leadership and the trust people put in you.
Justification– Frequently justifying mistakes or missed deadlines will make your team crazy. They need to depend on you. This behavior is about being right and can make you look tone-deaf regarding others concerns. For example, I had a recent experience with a service provider who made a mistake while defying a specific request. The provider apologized, made some adjustments to her fee, and then went on to repeatedly justify why she made the mistake. Her continued justifications only served to make me question her ability to provide the service she was being paid for and to trust that she understood my concern and would not repeat the mistake.
How do you stop these behaviors?
First, do some self-reflection. How often do you make excuses, point fingers, or justify your behavior as a leader or in your relationships? How is it impacting the quality of either of those, or the trust people have in you?
Second, if you are engaged in any or all three derailers, stop. Each of those behaviors is a choice and you can make a better choice. Denver speaking guru, Joe Sabah, is fond of saying, “You don’t have to be good to start, you just have to start to be good.” Start by choosing to take the first step to improve. When you are tempted to make an excuse, stop. Acknowledge the mistake and implement a solution.
Third, get some help. Identify someone who can hold you accountable to do better and ask them to let you know when you slip up or hire and executive coach to support you. Changing behavior takes practice and patience. Be willing to accept feedback from your accountability partner. It is one of the most powerful ways you will grow.
Courageous leaders accept responsibility for their actions. It takes strength of character and a commitment to change behaviors affecting your ability to be a leader people want to follow. That also holds true for your relationships, business or otherwise. Consider the example that you want to set and take some time to assess how you are doing with accepting responsibility. Acknowledge and accept your opportunities for improvement and commit to taking effective action now. Your leadership will thrive as will your relationships. Contact us to learn how we can help you.