I just started reading a book called How Did That Happen? by Roger Connors and Tom Smith. This is a book all about "holding people accountable for results the positive, principled way." One of the things the authors suggest early in the book (page 20) is that we often make the mistake of blaming others when something goes wrong. Rather than just pointing your finger at an individual or the team, they suggest that you include yourself in the accountability equation. They write that when you include yourself in the assessment of what went wrong, it does several things:
- Creates more positive relationships where people feel that you deal fairly with them and acknowledge the whole story and not just the part that emphasizes what they did or did not do.
- Helps you learn from your experiences when things go wrong because you no longer attribute the reasons for failure solely to someone else.
- Gets the process of fulfilling expectations back on track because you are willing to look objectively at "what else" you can do to ensure the outcome now and in the future.
- Develops a culture where everyone on the team can follow your example and become part of the solution, not just part of the problem.
- Establishes a positive work environment where people give their best effort because they feel motivated by principles that feel right and fair.
How did you act the last time expectations weren't met? I've worked with leaders who blamed the team when things fell apart, but took all the credit when things went well. My encouragement? Don't be one of those leaders.