To truly be a leader one must be able to take the blame for all that fails and give the credit for all that succeeds.

Is this true? If so, why in the world would anyone want to lead?

You would think that the preference would be to blame others for all that fails and take credit for all that succeeds. The problem is, that doesn’t properly represent leadership, rather it more fittingly represents mediocrity.

Truth be told, most leaders that I have met are not inherently altruistic. This isn’t so much to say that they are all egotistical, credit seeking, front runners; rather a more accurate description is to say that people by nature seek to be recognized. This desire isn’t limited to just leaders or followers, but really everyone.

What the leader must be cognizant of is that recognition comes in many forms. It isn’t always immediate and may not be public, but the recognition of successful leadership may come in no better form than through a strong culture and high levels of achievement.

In order to accomplish this many things need to fall into place, however none more important than the following two:

  • Accept Blame: Sometimes as a leader things may not feel like they are your fault. However, you must own everything that your team produces whether success or failure. If your team feels that you will push the blame on them they will resent your leadership. If this resentment turns to fear they may become proverbially paralyzed from taking risks which is extraordinarily damaging to culture.

  • Give Credit: This is extraordinarily simple yet it is something I see done so rarely. When things go well, those that notice may tend to give you as the leader credit for the success. Be absolutely certain to genuinely give consideration to all that made it possible. The key to this is it must be genuine. Acting humble and being humble are not the same thing. For those that struggle with hubris; this think of it as deferred recognition. The act of giving the credit to others will generate greater long terms results. Those results will be attributed to you as the leader no matter how humble you may be.

It is not always exciting to take the blame, nor is it always satisfying to give the credit. However, it must be done. AND…if you focus on the bigger picture, the reward will come in the long term.

For a leader there is nothing more rewarding than building a high performance culture that cultivates ideas and growth. This cannot be accomplished in a culture where people fear failure and are denied credit for a job well done.