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Posted: February 19, 2013

Leaders, try a slice of humble pie

It's good for everyone

Derek Murphy

In a perfect world, leaders take the blame, but share the credit. Too bad the world is far from perfect. Oftentimes leaders take more than their fair share of credit but hardly any blame.

Why is that? Do leaders think they are never to blame but always responsible for a company's success?

Listen, just because you gained a leadership role doesn't you mean you somehow become some sort of superhero who always makes the right moves. You're still largely the same person you've always have been, with an added title and more responsibility.

Leaders are liable for everything on their watch, and if something goes awry, you have to take the potential blame, while still holding the appropriate employees accountable. Pointing the fingers at others will only make you look weak as a leader, along with disengaging your workforce.

Okay, let's step away from potential work disasters, and take a closer look at why it's an issue when leaders take all the credit for the company's accomplishments. It's no secret that people want to be recognized for their work. Let's be realistic here, your employees are not volunteering, they are working to collect a paycheck and have that feeling of accomplishment, and they want to make sure their contributions are recognized.

Don't forget your employees are keeping the company's engine chugging day after day. If you fail to adequately acknowledge that your successes were achieved, at least in part, through the efforts of others, then how do you expect your employees to feel? Taken advantage of? Under appreciated? Yes to both. And, of course, as a result, morale may be low.

So, what's a leader to do? To recap, you need to shoulder the blame when something goes wrong but when an initiative is a success, you must give credit to the employees. Sounds fun, right? Well, it comes with the territory of being a leader, or at least a successful, respected, one.

Here are some tips to help ensure you are tuned into your workforce:

• In staff meetings, ask the group for their ideas instead of presenting a briefing. Invite ideas by asking: "What do you think about...?" or "What ideas do you have about...?" Allow silence after you ask a question. Don't answer the question yourself. Solicit responses from people who seem reluctant to participate. Use your group's ideas whenever possible.

• Reserve dates to review progress. Establish specific goals for each assignment and measure progress against these goals as the project unfolds.

• Write down skill strengths and the type of assignments each group member prefers. Consult this list before making new assignments.

• Ask your team to critique work plans they have developed in the past to determine if there are any patterns to problem areas.

• Schedule a casual lunch with your group. Introduce a topic for discussion, then step back and allow your group members to discuss it.

• Set aside a specific time during the week when you are available to discuss problems and concerns with group members. Notify others of this schedule, and listen carefully to what people say.

Derek Murphy is CEO of TBC, a global assessment company with over 4 decades of experience, specializing in 360s and survey customization. Our hosting platform, TruScore®, allows you to manage all of your talent management assessments in one central location. Request a demo to discover why some of the most recognized brands in the Fortune 1000 chose TBC.

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

Good article, but I know few business owners who fall into the category of "not taking blame" I do it almost everyday and I believe that one of the important parts of being a good boss is to be able to take criticism and blame. Allow yourself to be laughed at. By John Wray on 2011 11 03
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