Today’s Leadership Builder – “The First Rule of Leadership? Everything is Your Fault…”

 “The question of who ought to be boss is like asking who ought to be the tenor in the quartet? Obviously, it’s the man who can sing tenor.”  – Henry Ford

 

By Ed Emerson

With the amount of opinion and research, experts and gurus, articles and blogs and videos out there about leadership, you’d think folks who are interested in leading, or who are already in charge of a business, or teams, or product lines or even just themselves, would be keen to take advantage of all that knowledge.

And yet, despite the work of some pretty inspiring people, most of us simply have the wrong idea about what being in charge is all about and how to do it.

Consider this: Have you ever come across a colleague who you’ve worked with for a few years and he suddenly gets promoted?

He leaves work on Friday as the likeable, intelligent quick-witted ‘Joe from Finance’ – which is probably why he was tipped to move up the corporate ladder in the first place – and arrives on Monday acting like an entitled prick eager to exert his new authority from the wash room to the water cooler.

That’s not leadership.

Or what about ‘Jane from marketing’ who spends the first few weeks in her new director’s role telling all her old colleagues how financially fucked the company is, having just been made privy to next quarter’s sales forecast.

Nope. That’s not leading either.

How about the entrepreneur who spends five years crowdfunding, stalking business angels and filling in Government grants and R&D tax credit applications in order to raise money for a perfect website to promote the perfect product for the ideal target audience…and never asks anyone if they actually want to buy his Tridecagon Rubik’s Cube?

He built it but they did not come…because he never took ownership.

Bad Leadership Examples

And what about the restaurateur who won’t accept the critics views and his empty reservations book as a sign that his menu needs to change? Or the law firm managing partner who turns a blind eye to the £multi-million over-90-day creditors list because his partners don’t want to upset clients by asking them to pay? Or the manufacturing GM who’s plant is facing closure because he won’t address the bottlenecking slowing production? Or the team leader whose team won’t work for him? Or the sole trader startup whose accountancy offering for umbrella companies has a pricing structure that means he needs to work with 90 clients each month just to break even?

And these are not just work issues. Poor leadership skills inevitably dovetail into family and relationships, with prioritising and time management standing as the two pillars in most every leader’s way.

But there is one common denominator in all of these issues; one key challenge for every successful leader that’s been overlooked as often as it’s been ignored.

The Big Secret

It’s called “attitude”, and it is the ultimate deal maker and deal breaker. It can just as easily create kings of industry or ruin a person and his or her business.

That’s why the first rule of leadership is all about a change in attitude by saying: “Everything is my fault.”

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And what that means is that you have to first take ownership of what’s going on. As per the examples above, that means you have to consider your critics and lack of dinner reservations as a business fact and not a personal attack, or the red ink all over your firm’s debtors list as a weakness that needs to be addressed, or the production bottlenecking issue that your managers tell you doesn’t exist in fact does, or the reason your ‘bad team’ won’t listen to you is actually down to you, or the ridiculous pricing strategy you’ve set yourself might be because you don’t actually believe in the value of your own product. 

Taking ownership is the first step in becoming a successful leader. And it can be as simple as questioning why you think you can’t be a leader in the first place or why you somehow deserve not to be happy and more successful.

These are the types of principles we teach in HNW’s leadership builder programme. But more on that later.

Come back tomorrow when we’ll be talking about the steps involved in: “Taking Ownership – Change Your Mind, Your Ass Will Follow…”

If you like what you’ve read then forward this to a friend or colleague or someone else who you think might benefit from it.

I’ll leave you today with the words of Winston Churchill: “I am certainly not one of those who need to be prodded. In fact, if anything, I am the prod.”

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