Let me begin by saying that Leadership is often misunderstood to be about power and control when it is truly about Serving and Accountability. A leader needs to earn the respect and trust before being given the responsibility of making decision for a team they lead.
Your team will stand with your decisions and actions if you can lead by example with integrity, transparency and accepting accountability with an aim to serve a mission with a clear set of goals. You are as much the learner as you are the mentor in the entire scheme of things and involving the team in the process gives them the confidence to follow your lead.
To be an inclusive and accountable leader you need to begin with these 5 Steps
1. BE A ROLE MODEL: Hold yourself accountable for your actions, acknowledge your shortcomings and show the courage to accept responsibility for your actions. Show the team that you have the power to evolve, change and mend what’s broken starting with yourself. Invite feedback and be open to the consideration of change. Teams will feel confident in your character and empowered to act responsibly with pride.
2. SHARE YOUR FAILURES: Everyone faces challenge and a leader is not an exception. What really helps the team understand your journey is when you share the journey of your failures, challenges and how you overcame them. Sharing your fears will help them understand your courage better with reasons and process that made you strong and helped you win. When you take accountability for your failures and learn from them, it shows your team that it is okay to make mistakes if we are learning and improving. It makes you more transparent, more human, and worthy of their trust. In return they are likely to be more honest, transparent and genuine in coming forward and taking accountability for their errors.
3. BE INCLUSIVE AND RESPECTFUL: When you open the doors for feedback without setting any ‘hierarchy-based’ rules, you allow people to feel included, involved and valued. You break the barriers of red-tape, formality and fear of ‘the boss’ and empower them to be honest with your leadership and brand. Similarly, be respectful to their feedback, positive or negative. You may not like the feedback but if you are willing to listen and understand their point of view, you make them feel respected. A team that feels respected and included is always going to be more confident, honest and productive on any given day.
4. BE SUPPORTIVE: Let them know you are there for them. Be it a challenge, or curiosity, you are willing to stand with them to find a solution. If the team knows you stand with them, they are going to stand with you with their loyalty and honesty. A supportive leader instills confidence in the team that they will be heard, protected and defended, in the hour of need. They will stick with you because they know you stick by them.
5. BE READY TO TRAIN AND LEARN: Your team may not always have all the skills, aptitude or intellect that is needed to achieve a goal. At times, you may not always have the right answer, or at times, no answer at all – be honest about it. If they don’t know something, be ready to educate them, train them and empower them with knowledge. If they show you something you did not know or ask you a question you don’t have the answer to – be ready to learn, together. When they see you are not ashamed of not knowing it all, and are ready to learn, they will also feel motivated to stay honest about their knowledge and willing to learn more.