Maximized Leadership: No Excuses
John G. Miller reminds us that “there actually are reasons things go awry: people make mistakes, the ball gets dropped, stuff happens. Life can be complicated, confusing, and complex. Because of this, any one of us on any given day could go on and on withreasons.” You will sometimes find yourself while working for a large organization (or small one for that matter) caught in a situation where you are confronted by an issue that was not directly under your control and for which you may have had absolutely no input or direct responsibility. You are placed in a position where you have to make a response. That can be awkward. Do you make excuses, assign blame, or treat the person raising the issue as if they don’t know what they are talking about? That is the natural course but the problem is that none of those satisfy the person to which you share them.
Miller says that “when we attempt to exonerate ourselves with explanations, all they sound like are excuses – and of course, they really are. What we need to do, instead, is look to ourselves and ask, ‘What can I do?’ and get to work solving the problem. In other words, practice personal accountability.” I will be transparent at this point and acknowledge that of all of the Maximized Leadership articles I post, this may be the one I struggle with most. I have worked all of my adult life to avoid being defensive when confronted with an issue and though I have progressed, I am reminded by Miller’s comments that I have work to do. Miller reminded me that “customers do not care to hear our reasons and excuses.” They speak with us in the hopes that we can take actions to improve the situation that they have raised. I want to work on doing better at owning problems that are raised, seeking solutions, and using whatever influence I may have to improve the situation. We would all do well to do likewise in order to maximize our leadership.