Under the Bus
Posted on September 12, 2013
Over the past couple of weeks I have had the opportunity to provide leadership training for a few members of my teams. I have been trying to make sure we remain focused on the vision, and also that we continue to evaluate the methods that we use to pursue that vision. Among the many things that I have observed, one continues to come to the forefront that I wanted to discuss.
A while ago I decided that I would start asking a question to teams or groups every chance I got. The question is simple, “Who is your leader?”. It is amazing how younger teens and students will immediately raise their hands and almost shout “Me, Me, Me!” yet the older (and wiser) are more inclined to remain silent and avoid taking responsibility.
It seems that the younger ones relate leadership with prestige, fame and privilege. Responsibility never ends up in their top 10 benefits that come along with leadership. The older the group the more they do not want to have the risk or the embarrassment that comes with the possibility of failure.
While there are times that the leadership role will include the spot light, every time there is an opportunity for someone to be in the leadership role one thing is certain, responsibility is always included.
Imagine if you will coming across a group of 6th graders when they were playing ball or some type of game. You ask who is the leader and everyone wants to raise their hand and claim the position. If you ask the same question once a window is broken or if someone gets hurt from the game, no one is in a hurry to say “I am the person responsible for this.”
Recently I asked a leader of one of my teams about a report that was emailed to me. The report had many contradictions and was clearly put together right before the due date. The answer that I received back from the leader was “I told someone to do that and it looks like they failed.” (We call that throwing someone under a bus. Not a leadership skill taught in leadership lab.)
What I learned from that discussion was two things. First, I learned who was at fault for the report. Second, I learned about the leadership ability and character of the person filling that leadership role.
Leaders should understand that responsibility for the team is the weight that sits on their shoulders. Great leaders also understand that spotlight and praise should all go back to the team, not absorbed by the leader.
Oh yea, another thing, never throw your team under the bus.
This weeks experiment. Is there a responsibility that you as a leader are failing to accept? Does your team have tire marks on their backs?