Which line is that I hear you ask? It’s the line of choice. Picture it as a horizontal line that separates the positive from the negative, success from failure.
In everything we do, particularly in business, we make a choice. Even when external influences seem to be at play, we can still choose just how we respond to the situation. We may not have control over the entire situation, but we always have control over our reaction. That choice usually sends us either above or below the line.
Above the line lies accountability, ownership and responsibility. Below the line you’ll find blame, excuses and denial. If you take a minute to look back at any number of situations and how the people involved, or even you, responded, you can usually identify which way the choice fell.
How did it go? Do you see more behavioural responses that fall above the line than below? Are you or the people you work with operating above the line and taking full responsibility for what is happening in your business? Or is there evidence of the blame game going on?
As a leader of your business, you must begin with the self. If you are not operating above the line then the chances of others following your lead is fairly high. You will soon have a negative environment that focuses on blame, excuses and denial when things go wrong. It’s a sure fire way for things to spiral and the negativity to increase.
On the other hand, if you face a challenge head on and look for ways you can take responsibility, ownership and accountability, chances are you will learn from the experience and grow.
I think we all know what below the line looks and feels like. When we’re in a negative space and making excuses or blaming others for why something hasn’t been done or worked out the way we want it to, we don’t feel like we are empowered nor empowering others. At some level we know it.
Changing those behaviours is not as difficult as it sounds. Behaviour is something we can easily modify, we do it every day.
The first step is to be more self-aware and observant. Listen carefully to what you are saying and how you are impacting others. Listen to what they are saying too, particularly when the pressure is on. Keep that line uppermost in your mind, you can usually see and hear which way things are going.
There will always be times that you can blame circumstances or others for a disappointing outcome. How do you get above the line? Review the entire situation with your team, let them know that the goal is not to lay blame, but to look for lessons and opportunities to learn. Let them know what above/below the line is all about. Ask for their input as you do the review. What would you have done differently if you had the chance to do it all over again? Would you have done more research before you made a commitment? Would you have put more time and effort into that proposal? Whatever answer you come up with is where you learn a lesson.
It will take you above the line, and it will show your team what an effective leader looks like!