The Window and the Mirror

If you want to build trust, look out the window and give credit to those responsible for positive outcomes. Make sure those around you know that you recognize their contributions, and understand how they relate to the success of the program, project, or task at hand.

Be certain to publicly give them credit, even in situations where they are not present. If you are in a meeting and receive positive feedback for something, but feel a person or team deserves a significant portion of the credit for the success, say so. This will bolster the reputation of the team/team member in the eyes of others within the organization, and has the added benefit of serving as a reminder that you are the successful leader of a group of high-performing people.

Likewise, look in the mirror and take ownership of negative outcomes. Nothing is more destructive to a team than a lack of trust. One of the many ways a trust deficit can be created or made worse is through externally assigning blame for failure, especially in public situations. If a leader does this to a member of their team, what reason does the team have to trust their leader in the future?

You need to make one thing perfectly clear: the buck stops with you. Your team falling short of a goal, missing a deadline, or performing sub-par work all share one common trait – it was your team that failed. Look in the mirror to identify how you could have been a better leader: review your instructions, communication style, follow up processes, etc.

Does your team bear a level of responsibility for failing to meet an objective? Absolutely. However as their leader, you bear a greater responsibility to ensure that such situations are avoided. Take ownership of these instances and work with individuals to identify and remedy specific areas of opportunity.

Summing-up: Look out the window to apportion credit to factors outside yourself when things go well. At the same time, look in the mirror to apportion responsibility, never blaming bad luck when things go poorly.

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