Leadership Trait Tuesday: Shared Responsibility

Last week I posted to LinkedIn about best and worst “advice” from bosses as a first articulation of what I ‘d refer to as both good and bad traits or the application of certain traits by leaders in our industry.

In this post, I’ll continue my discussion on leadership traits by discussing a trait I’m calling “Shared Responsibility”. I will illustrate what this means to me with two examples (bad and good) from my personal experience:

Bad Example:  I once had a supervisor who demanded that I bring the firm 5 new GIS clients a month. This metric was arbitrarily derived by the number of people who expressed an interest in GIS services when my supervisor met with potential clients about services the firm provided. Those in consulting and especially business development know that there’s  a long road from meeting a new” lead” – someone you just met who has who has expressed interest in your firm or a service, to signing a new “client” – someone that requests work and provides revenue by paying for said work. The journey along this road is long, takes time, and has unknown potholes to navigate Not every lead becomes a client; if you start with 10 leads and end up with 2 clients that’s a great conversion ratio. So when reminded each month of my quota, I often requested my boss help me convert a reasonable subset of his new leads into the new clients he demanded of me. To me this help meant that (to convert a lead into a client), he needed to do his part to introduce me to his new leads so I can start conversations to learn about the lead’s business, operational issues dig into their   pain point, think about how to best solve these paints using GIS and related technology, develop a value proposition for some initial recommendations, start to earn their trust that I can be counted on to help solve their problems. Unfortunately, my supervisor would never follow-up and we’d have the same quota conversation (or argument) every month because he did not have the same sense of “shared responsibility” in the outcome that he desired.

The Lesson: To achieve the outcome you want; you need to accept and participate in your share of the responsibility in realizing that outcome.

Good Example: Many years ago, I managed a new office for a different consulting firm. We were late to open our new office in an unfamiliar geography so we had a difficult time hiring our only first and only employee for this space.

My father had years of experience as a a respected manager in information technology and once told me I should never hire anyone based on their availability alone. Nonetheless, in this instance we needed someone quickly and the only available candidate we hired ended up being extremely difficult to manage. As a result of my daily interactions with this individual, I grew very frustrated and left the firm quite unexpectedly within two years. I was not proud of the management job I had done and I considered the fact that I left (and how I left) a personal failure.

A couple years later, I met my supervisor for dinner to apologize for my poor performance and make amends. To my dismay, he considered what I viewed as my failure to be his failure and apologized to me for his responsibility in creating the situation that resulted in my frustration and departure. It was a discussion I’ll never forget, and it perfectly illustrated why I cherish my relationship with this person and consider him one of the best leaders I’ve ever worked with.

The Lesson: It’s easy to take credit for successes, but the best leaders acknowledge their shared responsibility in events that unfortunately can also lead to failures. The best of the best, have the humility to accept their shared responsibility and share that with the people they want to keep in their lives

Because shared responsibility is not commonly mentioned in articles about leadership traits, I’m particularly interested in your experiences. What stories can you tell (without naming names of course) that both good or bad examples of leaders applying (or not applying) shared responsibility? Please feel free to share by commenting below

#consulting # leadership, #traits #traittuesday #leadershiptraittuesday #sharedresponsibility


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