Great Leadership: Moving from Blame to Trust

Trust within a team, where each individual has confidence in each other, is the foundation building block for a team and organisation to achieve high performance. As a leader, your first job is to build trust. You start that process by being vulnerable! By being vulnerable you can change your culture from one of blame, to one of trust.

Great Leadership: Moving from Blame to Trust

Great Leadership- Moving from Blame to Trust - Anderson Lear consulting

As a business leader you can guide and motivate, but you are not responsible for how others respond and behave. Your responsibility is for the success of the business or your department, but try as you might, you cannot control people. Instead, leadership is about influencing others through your own behaviour. Don’t look to other people’s behaviour first, and point the finger of blame. We can become consumed by other people’s behaviour that we fail to recognise our own contribution to any situation.

Blaming others will not lead to business success. Recognising how your own behaviour impacts on the performance of others, showing humility and vulnerability, will lead to success! Why? Vulnerability by the leader will encourage vulnerability among the team, creating an environment of trust.

If you want people to change, change yourself. Changing your own behaviour requires humility to recognise you are not perfect, and are a work in progress. Letting others know that you are not perfect requires vulnerability. Humility and vulnerability: the two most important qualities that will enable change and the development of your leadership style.

What is SMART leadership?

At the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Dick Fosbury took the gold medal for the high jump and set a new Olympic record at 2.24 meters. What makes his achievement so remarkable is the journey leading up to this moment. Fosbury was one of the only participants to use the newly named “Fosbury Flop” high jump method of his own invention.

Years earlier in high school, Fosbury was not succeeding at high jump with the traditional methods of facing forward over the bar using the straddle method or the upright method. He thought that if he could lower his centre of gravity, and go backwards over the bar, he would not need as much energy to achieve higher jumps. He started to experiment. Fortunately for him, the 1960’s was a time when the high jump landing zone was now made of soft foam material. Landing on your back on sawdust or woodchips would not have been pleasant!

Most were sceptical of this new technique and many told him to give it up. Fosbury was determined. He kept practicing and his technique improved until no one could doubt the benefits of the new method. The proof was in his gold medal and Olympic record. The Fosbury Flop technique was a game changer in athletics history. Now, the technique is dominant in high jump the world over.

Good leadership is a game changer. Lead well, and your business will succeed. Do it poorly, and your business will flounder. The story of Fosbury gives us many leadership insights that will be explored in “the leader’s edge”.

Fosbury showed perseverance in the face of critics. When faced with an inability to achieve something, he did not give up, but found a new way, and he certainly had to step outside of his comfort zone to try something that was entirely different to the norm. In stepping out of his comfort zone, he made himself vulnerable. His successes as well as his failures were there for all to see.

Doing the same thing you are doing right now is not leadership. Looking for better ways to lead, change and grow requires perseverance and vulnerability; that’s SMART leadership.

SMART Leadership is based on the following model, and forms the basis for “the leader’s edge”.

  • S: Situational understanding – leadership begins with an assessment of where you and your organisation are at right now.
  • M: Motivating yourself and others- a high performing team must be highly motivated, and that means good leadership from you
  • A: Advancing goals – taking your business forward is not just about behavioural leadership, but how you set good strategy
  • R: Reviewing actions – leadership must also be placed in the context of organisational people management structures
  • T: Tracking progress – constantly review your leadership and organisational progress

Imagine the perfect leader. What comes to mind? Great leaders make it look easy. They are engaging, and make you want to work with them all the time! You look forward to seeing them in the corridor, you enjoy the recognition you receive from them and are awed in their presence! We associate great leadership with success. We think those at the top are far more skilled than we are, better at managing relationships and have very strong technical skills. It is easy to think we can never measure up to them. But that is a myth to be dispelled!

Great leadership is attainable!

Great leadership is attainable! There will be many challenges along the way as you develop leadership skills. But those skills are not outside your reach. That leader that you admire so much was not always a great leader. They are a person just like you. Even if they make leadership look easy, it is not, and their journey has not been easy to get there. They had to overcome the challenge of moving from a culture of blame to trust, as they grappled with human behaviour, organisational complexity and change, and strategic business challenges.