Truly Great Leaders expect maximum productivity from everyone!

In High Performance Teams absenteeism is very low, productivity is high, and people are busy doing what they should be doing to contribute, they are entirely relaxed about the leader and see him or her as part of the team, rather than the Commander.

Dictatorial leadership, or assuming the role of the Commander, usually leads to development of a blame culture.

A blame culture is where your team is so busy engaged in guerilla tactics to survive, that they do not perform anywhere near their capacity.

The organization still runs, but often key members spend more than 60% of their time on protection tasks such as internal presentations; being seen at the right meetings, places and events; worrying about what they think you want; running to your desk; sitting at their desk even when they should be out with customers, because they think you may seek them; and not surprisingly looking for another job, or having more than 2-3 absentee days per year for paltry reasons.

When there is a problem in this type of culture, then the team members spend more time working out who to blame (probably before they even attempt to find a solution) than finding a way to solve the problem. The first question asked tends to be 'Who did this?'

In a well established blame culture, often no one will ever be found to blame!

If a scapegoat is found they are usually a hard working, lower level employee who forgot to notice the cultural impact, and cover their tracks.

In an established blame culture, everyone involved in any project will spend 50% of their time covering their back everyday, and only therefore 50% of their time working on the actual project. Although 50% seems outrageous, I have studied this area very closely, and have found it to be proven correct even in a best case scenario. In an established blame culture, everyone from the top down spends so much time ensuring they cannot be held accountable, that the result is severely impacted productivity, and your headcount increases to cover the real workload.

You will achieve miracles with minimal resources if you remove any hint of blame culture in your organization!
Removing blame culture, not only lifts motivation and productivity substantially, it multiplies results. You will hear more potential solutions to a problem than you dreamed possible, team members will be open and honest about the performance of their departments. They will be unafraid to raise potential crises before they happen.

I have experienced extremely large organizations, where the blame culture starts quite high at the top and descends all the way down the ranks. I am speaking here about organizations with staff numbers in the thousands, and revenue in the billions of usd.

Blame cultures are viral and extremely damaging to your business result.

Imagine how productive these organizations could become if their Boards of Management employed Truly Great Leaders. Headcount and Costs would drop and Revenue would rise, it is almost like simple magic, yet few organizations bother to kill this type of culture once established.

Even fewer Board members understand the hallmarks of Truly Great Leadership!

Sometimes, perhaps it seems just too simple a solution, and the results too dramatic - so it cannot be true can it?

A Truly Great Leader will quickly spot a blame culture in place, or starting.

They will hear the first rumbles around the WHO ( did it) instead of the HOW (to fix it). As soon as a Truly Great Leader hears any statement that means 'Who Did It?' before a solution is found, they must act swiftly and decisively to kill this killer commercial virus. Be careful not to hire influential employees from another blame culture, ( unless that's the reason they are leaving) well framed interview questions will reveal truthful statements.

Sometimes, if a situation is going to go to litigation, endangers life or the viability of the business, or is a severe breach of policy, you will need to know 'Who Did It' but except in case of severe emergency that can be after the Solution is found.

You will need to ensure that any employee who makes a significant mistake, at least understands the severity of their actions, but also what appropriate action they should have taken instead. Even in the event of eventual dismissal for a gross offence, ensure the employee understands what should have happened, and they have an opportunity to at least learn. Now in the event of criminal proceedings arising against an employee this is of courses less necessary, criminal intent must be swiftly and coldly stopped by a Truly Great Leader.
If employees know, that in the event of a normal error, they will not be publicly shamed, or dismissed, but positive corrective action taken instead, that employee is more likely to come to their immediate leader, or even you, with their mistake in hand.

This of course is the ideal situation for a Truly Great Leader, to be able to preempt disastrous situations through the honesty of someone who was unafraid to tell you they made a mistake.
To remove the Blame Culture in your organization need not be so difficult. The larger your organization, the longer it will take, but try this simple formula:

1.Ensure your Culture statement reflects a 'How To' culture

2.Every time you hear 'Who Did It?' React instantly and firmly asking for the Who to wait until the How is enacted.

3.Ask your immediate Team to fully support the How To Culture, and Communicate the message downwards in your organization.

4.Try not, in a moment of frustration, to break your own rule!
If you can achieve this one hallmark of a Truly Great Leader, you will significantly contribute to the results of your organization and therefore your own results!

This article is based on an excerpt from The Essence of Truly Great Leadership by Terrie Anderson, and is aimed at senior executives who want to excel in leadership, or potential leaders wanting a competitive advantage. It is highly recommended reading for Board Members who want to understand the qualities they should seek when recruiting a Truly Great Leader.

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All rights reserved Copyright 2009 Terrie Anderson

Author's Bio: 

Terrie Anderson is the author of The Little Red Success Book and other publications and courses on Human Potential, High Performance Team Building and Essence of Leadership. Terrie has had a very successful corporate career and also coaches and mentors a very small group of people throughout the world. In 2009 Terrie Anderson will be available again for speaking engagements for public or corporate events.

The Little Red Success Book has just been released for the first time as an online version.

You can contact Terrie Anderson through the website where you will find The Little Red Success Book, her blog, opportunity to register for membership and a contact link.