We've covered a lot of ground in the past few weeks, touching on eight thoughts toward mighty management (first article here). Number nine is an essential.
Thought #9: Establish Firmly The Foundation That When One Fails, We All Fail.When One Succeeds, We All Succeed.
When our successes as managers don’t fall entirely on our shoulders but credits the entire team, we may find a willingness to step up in creative and new ways. Of course, success is great and gets everyone excited. The more difficult challenge is when we fail. That’s when we need to ensure that our reaction to failure is not a pouncing, but a tool to better understand how we can improve in the future.
This is an art, really, and it typically takes time and rests firmly on a solid foundation of trust (a.k.a. relationship). It’s an art because it can be difficult to share the glory when you’ve succeeded, but take the fall when, in truth, you personally haven’t done anything wrong. It rests on the foundation of a solid relationship because your team has to see how you react to failure before they’re truly willing to take the risks necessary to achieve great things. But over time, when they’ve seen that you honestly have their back through both good times and bad, the result will likely be a dedicated and hardworking team willing to go beyond what they may see in their paycheck week after week.
Many years ago, in my first month on the job I made a mistake that cost the organization some money. I hadn’t gone through much on-the-job training before I found myself on my own, with both of my new bosses away from the office, trying to figure out how to send out quotes in a highly regulated and confusing (to me at the time) industry. I was told that it was ok to simply do my best and keep things moving, and that they knew things wouldn’t be perfect. Just a few weeks later the General Manager stopped in to ask why we gave away something at a price that was more than half off of the typical charge. That was NOT a good moment for me! But instead of giving me a verbal lashing, he gently encouraged me and recognized that I had been put in a tough spot without a lot of training, and then he THANKED ME for my willingness to take a risk and get the quote to the customer in a timely fashion. That set a tone for the next 10 years of my career, knowing that I had the support of the team. I knew that we were in it together and that if I failed, we all failed. And it made me ever so much happier to share in OUR successes together.
TAKE ACTION: Be on the lookout for opportunities to share in successes and failures together. Challenge yourself to consider whether or not you truly support your team when things don’t go as planned. If you have a history of reacting poorly, be open and honest with your team, letting them know that you’ve been deficient in this area and that you’re going to work on changing your responses moving ahead. With each failure, decide how you can turn it into a learning opportunity for that person, for you, and for your team. And most certainly, anytime you earn kudos for a job well-done, be sure to offer that as an extension to your team, letting everyone know you didn’t go it alone.
Up Next: Five questions to ask yourself before getting involved.
Kirsten Smith, founder of Made to Thrive Consulting has over 20 years Business Development and Management experience with small and large organizations alike, including those listed among the Fortune 500.
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