Pointing the finger at leadership accountability
One of the risks of leadership in my experience is that we can become overly focused on the changes that others need to make – our team, an individual in another department, our colleagues or the ‘front-line’. Undoubtedly all valid observations and yet if we consider one of the underpinning principles of leadership we realise that role modelling is where it is at.
Of course we need to assess and consider the change that may be needed across the spectrum of organisational life including the behaviours and mind-sets of others. We know that evolving is a crucial part of survival and that as the world around us changes and/or we initiate some form of structural or philosophical shift then that will create impacts that will require some change in our people.
But here’s the thing. Just how much thought do we as leaders really give to the change that we need to address in ourselves? We want our team to feel ‘empowered’ and to take responsibility yet we preside over policies and processes that ensure that behaviours remain fixed and empowerment simply becomes a big, fat management word attracting cynical raised eyebrows.
Promoting a culture that is based on the foundation of trust and empowerment means we truly have to challenge our own needs for control, to examine our willingness to be open and to review our appetite for risk as others experiment and try things out. And of course this is just one of the areas in which leadership behaviours count for far more than leadership rhetoric. We may seek greater teamwork and collaboration yet operate in an independent, silo mind-set or want more creative solutions and ideas yet fail to properly acknowledge (or even recognise) the contributions and efforts made by others.
The list can be endless. The key here though as I learnt many, many moons ago during the pioneering Putting People First programme run by British Airways in its own transformation journey back in the mid-1980s, is that if you look at your hand as you point your finger (metaphorically of course) toward others there are always 3 fingers pointing back at you.
So as we find ourselves encased in the language of ‘change’ on an almost hourly basis these days it’s worth taking a step back as leaders to really examine the degree to which we are truly open to, embracing and role modelling shifts in our own mind-set, behaviours and practises.