7) See yourself through another’s lens:
Self-image is important. Positive self-image can give us the confidence we need to take bold steps. Positive self-image allows us to deem ourselves worthy of receiving the rewards of our hard work. Self-image is often the measure by which we gauge our progress against our ideal. However, self-image can also lie to us.
I once went to a leadership seminar where the speaker told of a corporate executive she coached, who stood before his entire staff in a room, facing them squarely, feet spread apart, fists on his hips and a stern look on his face and he told his staff in a cold voice that they should come to him with any problems … that his door was always open. Was his self-image consistent with the image he projected to his audience? Was the reality a driver of success or fear?
Because our self-evaluation may lie to us, soliciting honest feedback from others and being willing to accept it without reprisal and meditate on it (and possibly make changes in ourselves) is a key to being accountable.
In our first Blog on accountability, we talked about being accountable to ourselves first. Here we have to acknowledge that a true leader is also accountable to his or her followers.
The true purpose of leadership is to enlarge one’s footprint on the world. To engage a team of followers that adopt your goals and agenda and push it forward because they believe in it. A team that is driven with the lash will never perform as well as a team that is driven by their desire to see your objectives succeed because they believe in them. Therefore, being accountable to those we expect to show faith in our leadership is an undeniable mandate. Those we lead must have faith that they will benefit by following our lead.
To accomplish this, we cannot be like the manager cited above. We cannot claim humility and approachability but project stern reprisal. We have to take the time to listen with a calm demeanor and sincerely consider the feedback we receive. Imagine a father is guiding his children and a mother takes him aside a suggests, based on her own intimate knowledge of the children, that another approach might be better. The father who sincerely wants his children to learn and grow and become independent and successful adults will seriously consider the observations of his wife. Isn’t that what all good leaders want? For their followers to grow and mature to the point where they themselves become good leaders in the cause, thereby increasing the footprint of the cause exponentially?
Seek out those “qualified” who can be trusted to give honest and frank feedback and encourage them to do so (i.e.: a father would not solicit feedback on where the family is to live from a five-year-old who cannot comprehend the big picture, but he might from an older teenage child). Create an atmosphere of trust with that inner-circle of advisors by acknowledging critique when doing so makes sense. Get the advisor to take ownership of their criticism by participating in creating the solution and teach leadership skills by putting that advisor in charge of implementing the solution, because it is equally important to our follower’s growth to understand that the freedom associated with offering criticism is accompanied by responsibility. After all, the fathers of the American Revolution did not write the “Declaration of Grievances” … they wrote the “Declaration of Independence” and took responsibility by creating the solution of Democracy.