There are two distinct camps in the business world today—leaders whose teams have failed to measure up and instead do nothing more than deliver excuses, and leaders whose teams have delivered results in spite of the same difficult circumstances. The difference between the two? The path that the leaders chose to take.
The first path usually begins when a leader decides that they are "right," that they know the answer and how it should be. This belief usually arises out of a past experience of success where the leader mistakenly attributes the positive outcomes to their own powers rather than more accurately attributing success to good execution and risk mitigation by the team.
As the world rapidly changes, leaders cannot possibly know the "right" way forward, rather, they can only make decisions and remain open to feedback from their teams and adjust accordingly. Once a leader becomes convinced they are "right," their mind closes. They stop learning and become righteous. At this point, leaders become opposed to new information that could help them alter their plan and execute it successfully.
The actual cause of their shortcomings is a chain reaction that begins with ego and self-motive. To reinforce their positions, more energy and resources are often wasted finding others who agree with them. Together, all of these like-minded people jointly create a story that paints themselves as victims—with all others as the villains. Instead of results, the leaders now have an arsenal of excuses about why they didn't deliver.
The path to delivering results in spite of the circumstances begins with a simple commitment—a commitment to do whatever it takes (legally and ethically) regardless of role, position or tradition—to create the desired results. Such a commitment requires an open mind regarding what's to come and what will be required—a willingness to be open to the unknown.
When a leader fully commits to willingness, he or she must also commit to living with integrity. The leader must act publicly in a way that clearly role models that level of willingness and openness. This is how a Reality-Based Leader functions.
As challenges appear, those on the path to results don't fall into blame, but instead move into accountability, having the ability to account for what they did and did not accomplish. This involves each individual on the team owning his or her own position and outcome.
Responsibility opens up a grand arsenal of talent, agility, responsiveness, risk-mitigation strategies, and individual contribution. What starts with willingness ultimately brings out the best in each team member. Suddenly all are operating at their best and highest performance levels and are not only engaged, but have bought into the effort to deliver the desired outcome or results.
The path of commitment, action with integrity, accountability, responsibility, great individual contribution and stakeholdership begins with a leader who is willing to welcome the commitment of others. Great leaders believe their team members when they declare their willingness in deed or action.
Reality-Based Leaders work with the willing and then create an environment free of blame and filled with accountability and agile responses. This path ends with one of two outcomes: the desired results or a great deal of learning that can be turned into future results.
Want to succeed in spite of the facts? Check your ego at the door, commit wholeheartedly, embrace reality, adjust accordingly, and call everyone on your team to greatness.
Cy Wakeman is an author, speaker, workshop facilitator and trainer. Her new book, Reality-Based Leadership, will be available in bookstores nationwide on September 21st. For more information on Cy, visit http://www.cywakeman.com.