Did you know that leaders set the tone in a business or on a team? I know, it sounds like common sense right? But you would be surprised at how many people know this and yet still don’t set the tone.
I have seen many leaders in my career make this detrimental mistake. They say they own the tone, but then they miss something in their business or set the wrong focus point, and then they blame the team.
If you have lived through it in your career, you know what I am talking about. You show up to work, you know what success looks like because your leader has defined it. (Success is supposed to be an open-book test.) But when you go to grab your book, it’s been switched out for a different guide. You don’t have the answers. This is how people feel when a leader doesn’t set the tone correctly or if they don’t take ownership for a misstep.
You see, when a leader blames the team for a misstep they created, it’s another loss of trust. Everyone knows that the leader creates the vision and establishes the culture within the organization. Unless that leader has publicly handed off that responsibility, it still falls on her.
When a leader tells the team there is only 3 process they need to execute to be successful, and then suddenly the leader discovers the 4th process, she owns the miss. To be a true servant leader, she acknowledges that she completely missed the 4th process and collaborates with the team to solve it. That is setting the tone, establishing a culture of ownership, having integrity, and acknowledging that your team followed direction and did all they were responsible for doing.
Where I have seen leaders fail time and time again is that they are embarrassed because they didn’t see that 4th process. Or, they saw it but it didn’t matter to them at the time of discovery. Then suddenly, that 4th process is damaging the financial results of the company or upsetting customers. At that point, it becomes a huge deal and this “leader” blames the team for not looking at all of the pieces and processes and questions why this was missed, etc.
Good leaders and top performers will only stand for that for a short period of time and then will leave that organization. They leave because they can no longer trust the leader, and they feel as though they will never be successful because the terms of success have changed without anyone being told.
Your challenge today is to reflect on your past interactions with leaders. If you ever had a leader like this, you will definitely your challenge today is to reflect on your past interactions with leaders. If you ever had a leader like this, you will definitely remember him/her. How did you feel about them? Was it someone you trusted and wanted to follow? Now, look within yourself. Have you had missteps like this? If so, how did you handle them? Did you respond in a way that evoked trust and respect or in a way that undermined your leadership?
Once you reflect and assess, I want you to take the time today to chat with your team. Have a preemptive discussion with them now, before anything happens along these lines. Let them know you understand what your role is relative to the tone and the culture. Empower them and ask them to come to you and call you out if ever they see you acting in a way that isn’t true to your brand. Do this now, such that if it ever happens in the future, you can potentially recover from it and quickly right the wrong.
Remember that leaders set the tone. Make sure that each day, you are setting the tone for the culture and the pathway you want your company to follow.