Two things that reveal if you’re working WITH a leader or FOR a manager
Two Powerful Things
The Mirror and the Window
“You can’t change what you can’t change. But, you’ve got to change what you can.” ~ Nick Vujicic
I love speaking at seminars and corporate training sessions about the principles I’m about to share with you. To be highly effective, high impact leaders must master the leadership principles related to the mirror and the window.
The mirror and the window are tools used by both high impact leaders of people and managers of people, although they use them in completely opposite ways.
When it comes to responsibility, high impact leaders look in the mirror and accept responsibility. Managers look out the window and transfer responsibility.
This leads to the next use of the mirror and window.
When things go wrong, high impact leaders look in the mirror and take the blame. Managers look out the window and transfer the blame.
If a high impact leader’s team is not performing as well as it should be, the leader looks in the mirror asking:
- How can I help?
- What am I not doing that I should be doing?
- What can I do better?
- What do I need to know that I don’t know?
If a manager’s team is not performing as well as it should be, the manager looks out the window saying:
- They aren’t working hard enough.
- They don’t do what I tell them to do.
- They don’t listen.
- They don’t work together as a team.
What about when things are going well? Who gets the credit for the success?
High impact leaders look through the window and give credit to others. Managers look in the mirror and take the credit.
High impact leaders are happy to give the credit to others and to their team. They’re already the leader. They don’t need to take the credit. Humble leaders also don’t want the credit. They just want to make things happen.
Managers, on the other hand, are credit hogs. They’ll jump in front of a team or a team member to take the credit when the big boss is around. It’s sad. But, unfortunately, it’s all too common along the front lines in the workplace.
I remember working in a plant while I was in upper management on the Plant Manager’s staff, serving as the Lean Manager. The CEO of our multi-billion dollar global company was coming to our plant for the first time to present a trophy we had won for our continuous improvement efforts.
We planned a tour around the plant with a stop in each department, so he could learn why we had done so well. In most plants, the Plant Manager along with the staff managers would lead this type of tour, but not at our plant.
We had an outstanding Plant Manager who was a true leader. He had a front line operator from each department work with their team to decide what they wanted to present to the CEO. Then, each of them put a flip chart in their department with that information on it. Next, we supported them as they rehearsed and prepared for the CEO’s visit.
When the CEO arrived, we assembled all of the front line operators and informed him they would be leading the tour. The plant manager and all of us on his staff brought up the rear and followed them around. We didn’t speak at all. It wasn’t about us. We didn’t achieve the results. Those hard working people on the front lines made it all happen.
We made it very obvious to those we were serving: We don’t want the credit for what you have done. We don’t deserve the credit. But, you do.
We leveraged the CEO’s visit and gave credit to our team. Instead of creating distrust, we intentionally built trust.
“A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.” ~ Arnold Glasow