There is no “I” in team. This is true. Leaders are supposed to be selfless. This is true. However there are times when a true leader must use the pronouns of “I” and “My”. There are times that you must lead with “I”.
For a leader the most important time for them to use “I” is when there has been a mistake or something has gone wrong. When things go wrong, it is very easy for people to shift the blame and blame other people. There are times that the blame does belong to someone else on your team or someone under your leadership. However, a true will accept the blame and shift the blame focus from their team members. For a leader you take none of the credit when things go right but you must absorb the blame when things go awry.
The 2018 College Football Championship game between the University of Georgia and Alabama was decided in overtime by one touchdown pass. The Alabama receiver caught the pass and ran into the end zone due to a missed coverage by a Georgia defensive back. In the post-game press conference when asked about the game, Coach Smart of Georgia could have pointed the blame at his assistant coaches for making the wrong calls or the players for missing the coverage but he did not do that. In his press conference Coach Smart absorbed all of the blame and heaped all of the praise on his players. True leaders know that the blame or “the buck “always stops with them.
Can you imagine what it would be like for a head coach in his position to do the opposite? What if the head coach blamed the players publically after losses? What if the head coach blamed his staff during press conferences? Can you imagine what impact that would have on the team and players? Can you imagine players wanting to play for a coach who did that?
A leader’s job is not just to lead but it is also to protect and support. Leaders have thick skins so that they can absorb and deflect blows and attacks meant for those who follow them. True leaders also know that people will not follow a leader who is always shifting the blame. Team members are more loyal when they know that their leader will protect them and take the blame from them even when they deserve it. Team members will also be more open and willingly to accept criticism from such a leader. Most importantly team members will work harder and get better for a leader that will make sacrifices for them.
A true leader knows that once you accept the blame or the failure, you can shift effort to finding a solution or getting better. If you are not willingly to shoulder the blame as a leader then perhaps you are not ready to lead. Blame finding, blame casting, and finger pointing is wasted time that prevents you from finding solutions and moving forward.
True leaders use the pronouns “I” and “we” instead of “them” or “they”. One is the language of ownership and accepted responsibility and the latter is the language of blame.
Remember in times of blame or mistakes, a leader leads with “I”.
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How to improve YOU in 2018 or any year
With the beginning of any New Year comes the inevitable New Year resolutions. New Year Resolutions are commonly centered on losing weight, finding romance, getting healthy, quitting bad habits or being more successful. Many, if not most, resolutions fail. I believe resolutions fail because people try to change who they are superficially instead of tapping into the unique person they were born to be. Resolutions are often promises made to be a “ new you”, “better you” or “improved you”. I believe we become better not by recreating “outer” selves but by stretching and growing “inner” ourselves. We stretch by challenging ourselves to step beyond our current comfort zones and current status. Through every stretch we grow and become a better version of ourselves. To me this is the goal for any year, any month, any week, or any day…become a better version of yourself. Here are a list of 5 things to start your stretching and growing in 2018 or any year. I have found that they work for me so try them and see if they work for you. What do you have to lose?
- Try new music. Music is good for your mood and your soul. However, we often get stuck in a rut of the same type of music. My natural default is Hip/Hop (90’s) and R&B (90’s). However, there are so many genres of music and so many great music artist to explore. Why limit yourself to the same few artists and the same genre. I try to expand my musical palette by choosing famous artist from genres I normally do not listen to and load up my playlist. I listen to this playlist in my car, at work or around the house. My palette has expanded to genres like country, r& b classics, rock & roll, opera, & more. I have become acquainted with musicians over time such as Johnny Mathis, Pavarotti, Glenn Campbell, Janis Joplin , Thundercat , the Bee Gees, Billy Holiday ,Sam Cooke , The Doobies Brothers ,Al Green, Sinatra and many more.( and I still find time for my Tupac!). Listening and appreciating different music is like understanding different cultures and languages.
- Find a new hobby. Hobbies are the way we learn new things and expand our knowledge or skill set. Hobbies can be do it yourself projects, outdoor projects, exercise activities, or something that you take lessons to learn. There are so many different things to learn in the world why continue to do the same things over and over. When you leave organized schooling, you are responsible for the curriculum of your learning. I have a friend who is constantly looking for new hobbies or new things to try (He just sent me an invitation to learn the Olympic sport of curling!). If you like sports, learn about a new sport. Your new hobby can be cooking, painting, baking, cycling, running, antiquing, chess, soccer, music lessons, photography, learning or new language or anything you find interest. Stick with it for a year, learn all you can about it and see what happens.
- Read books. I am an educator so I love reading. However reading is the way to learn. Reading is a good escape to different places and into the lives of different people. I personally like biographies and learning about the lives, struggles, successes, and failures of other people. However, I read books on my profession, personal interests, fiction or popular reads. Reading expands your mind so don’t limit yourself to books, but read articles and magazines as well. The more you read the more you know.
- Take time to spend quality time. There is no greater gift we are given than time. How we chose to spend that time and who we choose to spend it with are so important. Take time to spend quality time with those who are important to you. Quality time is time spent in conversation without distractions, making new memories, reminiscing on good memories, laughing, sharing opinions, and sharing your dreams. Spend time with your friends, your colleagues, your family, your spouse, your mentors and mentees. Conversation is the life line that connects people. Social media conversation does not count! Going out, partying and not remembering what you did… doesn’t count either. Take time to have lunch with, check on or visit with that friend or relative that you have been putting off. Send kind texts or leave nice voicemails .Take your kids (or nieces/nephews) to the park or playground. You will be glad you did and your life will be better.
- All writing does not have to be for a grade, assignment or classroom. Writing is not limited and relegated to academics, scholars or professionals. Buy a journal. Write daily or write once a week. Journal your thoughts, your reactions to news events, your dreams, events in your life, and your goals. Your thoughts are as a valid as anyone else’s thoughts. Your story is as real as any story written in any book. Writing helps to organize the thoughts in your mind and helps give them life. You would be surprised at the thoughts which are floating in your mind which are waiting to be chronicled in print.