I know an interesting podcast at hbr.org. It shows we need to hire guilty leaders. Let me explain. Frank Flynn, a Stanford Business School professor, did a series of studies. He wanted to find out if people who feel guilt more do better or worse as employees and as leaders.
Jim Collins in Good to Great famously found that Level 5 Leaders looked in the mirror when there were problems and looked out the window to thank someone when they were successful.
When I am trying to find out if someone has leadership potential, I ask questions that give them an opportunity to admit a weakness, a failure or an error. People who can do this are usually gems. I am rarely disappointed in their performance.
On the opposite side of the spectrum is the candidate who blows your socks off as apparently he can walk on water. Their perfect resume attests to that. These guys, even when given an opening, will change the topic to avoid admitting a mistake. I run from them. They are the guys who will have a problem and cover it up rather than tell me. See also Hire Force Multipliers, Especially in China.
Hire Guilty Leaders and Be a Guilty Leader
Actually, I don’t just want to give a hiring or even an interviewing technique class.
We as leaders need to look in the mirror and find out if we are actively taking on more responsibility for the events around us. If we are, then we are on the right track. If we are not, then I think we need to spend more time looking inside to see why we do not feel responsibility. We do well to read up on factors of victim mentality.
The web has many resources on this topic like this ezine article.
Any aspect of victim mentality should be faced as it hurts your leadership or that of your people.
Here is a good definition of a victim: “a person to whom life happens.”~ Peter McWilliams
Leaders make things happen while non leaders are victims of events.
Leaders feel responsible, take responsibility and even admit failure.
Lets look for those people and make it a point to hire them. Foremost, however, is that we rid our lives of all tendencies to cast off blame. We are the leader. Let’s take responsibility.