Having traveled all over the globe for my business, I’ve had the privilege of meeting leaders across all kinds of industries and from any background imaginable. Separating the good leaders from the great ones isn’t always a matter of their actions or what they say; rather, what the great ones have in common is often what they don’t say.
It led me to review my own commentary and it struck me, as a leader of an organization, one must be very careful to not slip into the pitfalls of pointing fingers everywhere but into a mirror.
Let me give you a few examples of what successful leaders never say.
- “I should (insert topic) but I can’t because…
This comes up a lot. I was on the elevator heading to the gym when a woman got onto the elevator, asked me about the gym and then proceeded to say; “I should have gotten up to work out but…”
The next day on a flight, the man seated next to me saw me working on a presentation, and he said “I should get my work finished as well but…”
I think these examples demonstrate how guilty we feel about what we should do versus planning what needs to be completed and then executing. Don’t worry about judging yourself. Excellence lies in repeated failures, and refusing to take the first step will only hinder your ability to lead a team.
- “It was (insert name)’s fault that it didn’t get finished.
As a successful leader, you must take full responsibility for everything that happens in your company or on your team. If the final results don’t match the expected results, you must review everyone’s actions to see where the breakdown was. Stay away from emotions or personal judgement.
Find out what needs to be adjusted to get the desired results. Better process? Better Training? Better inspection or accountability? When I hear a leader say it is someone else’s fault, I challenge them, asking “Who built the process? Who hired these individuals? Who is accepting poor performance?”
Being a leader is much more about holding accountability when things go wrong than it is taking the credit when things go right.
- “It is because of (insert outside event) that we are not doing well.”
Leaders don’t focus on what they cannot control. You cannot control the weather, the competition, and a host of other outside influences. Great leaders focus on what they can control.
Successful leaders focus on product, process, team, training, and accountability. There are times where outside influence may have a potential impact, but leaders focus on how they need to react to this influence and adapt.
The next time you are with a group of people, listen for these phrases. Catch yourself when you say these phrases and see what triggered it. The more you stray away from that mentality, the more successful you will become.