How Are You Willing To Change?

You cannot change what you cannot control. But, you MUST change what you can control.

The principle I want to share in this article is one that you must master to become a highly effective leader, and be the best person you can be. It is not an easy principle to master, I have found it and still find it difficult. But, it is essential that you overcome the difficulty.

I want to discuss looking inward and looking outward. Both highly effective leaders and low performing leaders do this, but not in the same way as each other. You can probably guess what the highly effective leader does and what the low performing leader does.

1. Looking Inward And Looking Outward

We have spoken a lot about responsibility, and this principle has everything to do with that. Highly effective leaders look inward, and fully accept responsibility for their team. Low performing leaders look outward, and refuse responsibility. They then transfer that responsibility to their team.

A good example of this would be the exercise I set for you earlier in the article “Don’t Hold Your People Back“. If you did the exercise then you looked inward, and accepted that you need to work on yourself to improve. So, you accepted responsibility.

If you didn’t do the exercise then you obviously don’t think you need to work on yourself to improve. So, you looked outward, and transferred the responsibility to work on yourself to improve on to others. The managers who are striving to become highly effective leaders looked inward and said “I should do this exercise”.

The managers who are too insecure, and not interested in becoming highly effective leaders looked outward and said “I don’t need to do this, someone else needs to do this.”

The managers who didn’t take action with the exercise still don’t know that there is a need to be deliberate with their personal growth. Despite what they have read in my other articles. The managers who are striving to become highly effective leaders know that they need to be deliberate with their personal growth.

So, they did take action by doing the exercise. You can clearly see the difference in mindset between a low performing leader and a highly effective leader.

The managers with a low performing leader’s mindset will be making any excuse they can to not do the exercise. They are probably upset and even blaming me for them not being deliberate with their personal growth.

I urge you to think hard, look inward, and realise whose fault it really is for not doing the exercise. Whose fault is it for not working on yourself to improve? Yours.

On the other hand, I know for a fact that the managers with a highly effective leader’s mindset will be agreeing with me.

2. Taking Responsibility

Anyway, let’s move on. When you’re at work and things go wrong, do you look inward and accept responsibility for what went wrong? Or, do you look outward, blame others and delegate responsibility?

A highly effective leader would look inward and accept responsibility. A low performing leader would look outward, blame others, and delegate responsibility.

A highly effective leader always looks inward. So, what would they do if things weren’t going well, or the team were not performing? They would look inward and ask themselves questions like:

  • Why are we not performing well?
  • How can I help the team do better?
  • What haven’t I done that I need to do?
  • How can I get better?
  • What do I need to learn?

An low performing leader always looks outward. What would they do if things weren’t going well or the team were not performing? They would look outward and say to themselves things like:

  • The team won’t listen to me.
  • There is no teamwork between them.
  • They don’t do what I say.
  • They don’t work hard.
  • I need to change a few of them

3. Giving And Taking Credit

When things are going well with the team and the organisation, where does the praise and the thank you go? A highly effective leader would always look outward and give the team all the credit. A low performing leader would look inward and take all the credit.

A humble, highly effective leader doesn’t need or even want any credit. They are the leader, and it gives them pleasure to raise up their team, and give them credit for excellent work. They are more than happy helping and working with the team to make things happen.

A low performing leader jumps at the chance to take all the credit they can get. They will even put other team members down, if it helps raise themselves up. I have actually seen this happen on many occasions. In every industry in the world, this is very common.

Especially when their boss or their boss’s boss is in the area. I find this very sad, and is one of the major reasons why I have started highlyeffectiveleader.com.

When I was working in Liverpool with their train operating company, I was going through university, and I was allocated a mentor. His name was Ron and he was amazing. He had been managing director of a couple of big companies in the rail industry.

When he started mentoring me, he was a director of a multi-billion pound global company. So, one day I took him on a tour of the train depot along with our engineering director Kevin. I did this so he could see how we were doing, and show him what a good host I was.

I planned to stop in each department, and introduce Ron to all the different teams. I was inexperienced in showing people around, so Kevin helped me when I needed it. Kevin was a true leader and I followed him because I wanted to.

When taking Ron around, Kevin would introduce him to the team’s and then would allow the supervisor to explain to Ron what they did. They told us what was working well, and what needed to be improved. Ron listened and asked a few questions, it was nothing intrusive or trivial, just a polite conversation.

One thing I noticed about Kevin was, before we left each area, he would always tell Ron what a great job the supervisor and their team were doing. He never took any credit for anything.

When we got to look at the trains that were under repair, Kevin would point out to Ron the modifications that I had worked on. He would then “give me the floor” to go into detail of exactly what I did and why.

The trains had improved their performance when Kevin joined us as engineering director, but he didn’t take any credit for that either. He praised me and the whole team for all the good things that were happening.

He made us all feel great that day. I even feel great now writing and thinking about that day. The really great thing was, Ron was very impressed and left the depot satisfied. He was happy with what I had done, and how one of his depots were performing.

That was true leadership I witnessed that day, and is one of the reasons I am in the position I am in today.

Our engineering director used Ron’s visit to help him raise his teams up that day. He made us all feel comfortable, and happy at the end of the day. He increased his influence with the teams, and built even more trust with us.

A highly effective leader gives out more credit than he/she takes, and takes more blame than what he/she gives out.

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

Check out my other articles by Clicking HERE

All the best,

Tom (LeadGrowInfluence)

22 thoughts on “How Are You Willing To Change?

  1. Hi Tom. What a great real life example of a highly effective leader! I totally agree with you. Reading your this article is like just having a spiritual cultivation session. Like most of the guru always said must put what you have learn in practice by applying them in your daily life. It’s all about looking inward. Thank you for sharing this great article.

    1. Hi Janet,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you found the article valuable.

      Thank you for your kind words, and it means so much for you to say that reading this article is like having a spiritual cultivation session. This is what drives me to keep going and sharing more articles.

      It is my absolute pleasure to keep sharing.

      All the best,

      Tom

  2. I think there are few personality traits more repellant in a leader than someone who is only too keen to push their own failings on to other people around them – this is exactly what a good authority figure never does, no matter what has taken place.

    1. Hi Simon,

      Thank you for your comment.

      These are interesting points you raise.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  3. You mentioned great points in this article! I really found where you mentioned that a leader does not look for credit very important!

    A lot of people want to strive for a leadership position because of the expected praise they get.

    Thanks for the post!

    1. Hi Brian,

      Thank you for your comment.I’m really happy that the article has resonated with you.

      I agree, I know a few people who want to be in leadership positions so that they can take all the credit. This is the exact opposite of how a leader thinks and behaves, and it is my commitment to help people who currently think in this way.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  4. Hello Tom,

    Just dropping by to say that I have really enjoyed your article and this made me recall some of the bosses i had during the years and how each one of them had be acting on their leadership skills. Unfortunately most of them had failed on been leaders and were always blaming someone else for any mistake that occurred on a daily basis.
    To be honest, it seems that we rarely find people who are actual leaders or urge for a change on their personality in order to be better with their employees.
    Taking the blame is the first step a leader must show and then finding solutions within the core of the whole group (bosses and employees together).
    To answer your question at the end, I have personally realized a lot about leadership, from taking a look on the mistakes that my previous bosses had been performing. That has changed my perception on leadership and helped me avoid the mistakes I saw on them.

    Keep up the good work. It is really appreciated and thank you for the reminder of how to change our selves towards becoming better leaders but at the same time better persons as well.

    All the best,
    Ioannis

    1. Hi Ioannis,

      Thank you for your very thorough comment. I’m so pleased you enjoyed reading this article.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences with your bosses, and thank you for answering my question. I really believe a lot of people will be able to resonate with what you have described.

      I certainly will keep up the good work and I hope you return and engage further in the future.

      All the best,

      Tom

  5. Hello Tom!

    This is a great article about taking responsibility and act like a leader – honestly I am dealing with that currently or last few months already and it is sometimes quite hard to follow it – especially when I have lived 35 years in the “victim” mode – I believe a lot of people have similar problem as I have – therefore is your article very useful!

    I am happy to come across your website and this post, thank you for taking time to write it!

    Have a great time!

    Bye Renata

    1. Hi Renata,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you found the article valuable.

      Thank you for sharing your recent experiences in “victim” mode, as I agree that a lot of people will feel the same way as you do. Hopefully you can help pull them out of that mode and that the article can also help them.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  6. How are you willing to change provides you so much to consider about yourself and what you might want to change, we all know making changes in our lives are difficult even when they are positive changes, but you have motivated me to access myself and make positive changes to improve my life.

    Thank you
    Jeff

    1. Hi Jeff,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really happy that you found the article helpful.

      It’s really pleasing to know that I have motivated you to access yourself and make positive changes in your life. If you need any further help with this then do not hesitate to contact me.

      All the best,

      Tom

  7. This post is so mind-opening. Leadership looks easy until you step in the shoes. At that moment when everything is going south. That’s the defining point. Looking inward, taking responsibility and giving credit can turn the ship around. Thank you for sharing Tom.

    1. Hi Zay,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that this article has opened up your mind on leadership.

      You are right, looking inward and taking responsibility can definitely turn the ship around in your life and the lives of your people.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  8. Hi Tom,

    A good leader must be responsible when things went wrong. If any leaders who always blame others without getting the solutions to make things improved, they should learn more to become learders.

    Especially at work, if my manager who is always blaming me or my colleagues about things we didn’t do well instead of guiding us in the right direction, I would feel bad and find the solution on my own, which might cost much more time and effort.

    So, you did share a good point from what a good leader should be.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Matt

    1. Hi Matt,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you found the article helpful.

      How would you help your manager who is always blaming you to learn more about leadership?

      Tom

  9. I love your story about the train company! And I can so imagine the proud feeling you had and have.
    As ever your tips for a highly effective leader are also applicable to ‘ordinary’ life. If something in my life goes wrong and I blame others, I won’t function very well and won’t be happy either.
    So I enjoyed reading this, despite the fact that I am not a manager anymore 🙂

    1. Hi Hannie,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that the article resonated with you.

      It’s great that you can relate to some of the tips coming from my train company story. Make sure you apply them to your life and let me know how you are getting on with them. If you need any further help or advice with them then please don’t hesitate to contact me.

      All the best,

      Tom

  10. The second point that you made, the one about taking responsibility, is one that I think that is very important. All people, but especially leaders, should take responsibility for their own actions, instead of shifting the blame onto others. It’s simple really, but I think that this takes a lot of effort for some people.

    1. Hi Alejandro,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you have resonated with the article.

      You are right, responsibility is most important and knowing your responsibilities as a leader is even more important. Blaming others is not accepting what your responsibilities are, it is giving them to somebody else. Do not do that.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  11. Hello, thanks for the article. So true, you pointed it out. Especially when you mentioned looking inward and outward. That’s really common mistake what many leaders do, they really have problem to take full responsibility. I met a lot in my life. In my opinion as a good leader you have to always remamber there is always space to learn and progress.

    1. Hi Olga,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you found the article helpful.

      You are so right, highly effective leaders are learners and they have a learners mindset. They realise that absolutely anybody can teach them anything, they do not look at anybody differently when it comes to being teachable.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

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