Sunday, August 19, 2012

‘I’, ‘Me’, ‘Myself’ – The 3 Words Managers should use Only when stuck in mud of Failure, Not when standing on Victory Podium

My last post touched on the painful reality of how Managers, just to score brownie points with their bosses, are getting trapped into the race of “let’s play Innovation” and downplaying importance of efficient execution. This post addresses a similar issue of how, in the aggressive pursuit of recognition, many Managers today are clamoring for their self-promotion. The most classic symptom of this issue is the management who routinely states, “I did this” or “I did that” rather than “We did this or that”. The fact these managers must come to terms with is that for them to be effective and successful they need to take a journey from Illness (‘I’) to Wellness (‘We’).

According to Jim Collins in his groundbreaking book “Good to Great”, Level 5 leaders look out of the window to credit others for success and look in the mirror to apportion responsibility when things don't go as planned. One of the key factors that differentiate a great ‘Leader’ from a charismatic ‘Bragger’ is personal humility. Great leaders credit others for their success and blame themselves for small bumps along the road to greatness.

Now the question you need to ask yourself is, “Am I a Leader or a Bragger?” As a Manager, do you tend to hog the limelight when things run smoothly but point fingers as soon as the ball drops? Do you take the majority of credit for your team’s accomplishments to impress the higher ups? Or, do you take less credit and accept more of the blame?

Leaders understand the value of timely and periodic recognition, appreciation and admiration. They always give their team their due credit, acknowledge and celebrate their achievements (Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone), and own the blame in case of failure. They give their team enough protection and encourage the failure – following the ‘Fail often, Fail fast and Fail cheap’ mantra. This creates a fear-free environment in the team and encourages team members to take calculated risks to try new things (innovation). On the other hand, failing to do so not only fosters resentment and demotivates team, but also makes you seem selfish and untrustworthy.

‘I’, ‘Me’, ‘Myself’ – These are the 3 magic words that Managers should use Only when stuck in mud of Failure, Not when standing on the Victory Podium. It shows your humility admitting personal responsibility for your team’s errors, and demonstrates your self-confidence when highlighting your team’s role in triumphs.

Scared? Scared that if you do not constantly tout how great you are, it’ll slow down your growth? Scared because since childhood you've been taught to be competitive and always been pitted against one other, from scoring marks to excelling in a competition? Scared because you always have been expected to get appreciated by your Teachers and everyone else in your locality? Scared because you unintentionally started believing that if you appreciate someone then she may grow faster (or be more popular) than you? Don’t worry. You are NOT competing against your team. A good Manager is considered the one who influences his team to attain desired objectives. He is the one who can get things done (through his team) today and tomorrow. He encourages his people to excel but doesn’t shirk from dealing with low performers. As a Manager, your success (or failure) is measured in terms of your team’s success (or failure). Remember that in the game of Chess, the King is the most important piece but is not one of the strongest. It can win the war only with the help of other pieces.

All “great” organizations embrace collaborative Managers more than “lone wolf” Managers. Managers are measured on their leadership skills, not solely on their personal achievements or how boastful they are. If you do the right things, in the end it’s your team who’ll be bragging about you loud and proud. You'd automatically get awarded not only for the overall success but also for being a great leader.

All “great” organizations cultivate culture of appreciation. Managers with maximum ‘Appreciation Index’ in their teams reach to the top the soonest. The old adage goes - History remembers Kings, not Soldiers.  
And more than Kings, it remembers Kingmakers. So, next time you are standing on the Victory Podium remember that being Appreciative is highly Appreciated