Mary Schmidt has an interesting post on the qualities of a leader. I happened to read this post right after I read Tom’s post about The President and The Katrina Disaster. Almost everyday there is a new story on television or in the newspapers that details a crisis of leadership. It is true that some of these stories are such huge leadership failures that the glare from them can often overshadow everything else.
It is important that we do not forget that for every Enron or Tyco (I’m keeping my promise to keep politics off of this blog) there are (at least) a hundred companies doing it right. For every egomaniacal, lying CEO there are a dozen that are working hard, approaching their decisions with integrity and taking responsibility for their actions.
My friend Geoff Brewer taught me a valuable lesson when I first joined my current company. He said, “It is amazing what you can get done as long as you are willing to give someone else the credit”. This is one of the secrets to being a successful leader. When things go right it’s not about you – it’s about the team.
The other big secret is to take the blame when things go wrong. If you’re in charge and something happens, it’s your problem. Figure out how to fix it and then make sure it doesn’t happen again. People have a tremendous capacity to forgive. Those who follow you may hate the fact that you made a mistake but they will respect your honesty.