Culture; “the way we do things around here” – can be a powerful stimulus for positive performance and malleability, or a slow toxic process that undermines accomplishments and success. Majority of the articles you now read about organisational culture focusses on how a positive culture can buffer or minimize against the bad things in an organisation, not about how it can be a force for good. There is no better time than flipping our mindset on this.
The roles and responsibilities of leaders have radically changed in the past 12 months. Before COVID-19, many leaders were absorbed in innovation and driving revenue. Today, many of those same leaders must make rapid decisions about controlling costs and maintaining a strong cash position. They may be confronted by surprising barriers —shortages of staff, operational challenges or unforeseen closures. These tests have considerably expanded the scope of these leaders’ roles, responsibilities and priorities. Leaders will continue to be tested in skillsets where they have not fully developed their knowledge or experience. The learning curve will be steep.
Crisis is a perfect time to reflect on which side of a well-known leadership approach you sit on. First introduced by Jim Collins in his book “Good to Great,” The crux of the Window and the Mirror leader is crediting others for the company’s success and blaming themselves for the company’s failings. Such leaders believe if mistakes happened on their watch, it is their fault and when successes occur, it is their people’s triumph. Let’s call these Window-first leaders. Mirror first leaders are ones that when things go wrong, they look out the window at their people and point the finger. When things go right, they look in the mirror at themselves and point the finger and ensure all the credit goes to them.
Mirror-first leaders do not develop others because they see it as a loss of their power. These leaders do not credit others because they see this as less available credit for themselves. Effective leaders however don’t say or think “I”. They say and think “we.” They understand and accept responsibility, but “we” get the credit.” This creates trust – the backbone of positive culture.
James Lane Allen said that “adversity does not build character, it reveals it.” A storm will arrive again. It’s not a question of if, but when. When that time of adversity arrives, what will it reveal about you?
So, I leave you with 2 questions:
- Are you a window or mirror first leader?
- If you are a window first leader – when things don’t go so well, do you have strategies to be self-compassionate and move forward, or do you get stuck in the downward spiral? I suggest either building or being aware of your strategies to pick yourself up and not only bounce back but bounce forward.