Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Leaders Get More Credit Than They Deserve

I was reminded of this topic recently while watching an interview with Alan Greenspan.  For my readers outside the US, Greenspan was the Chairman of the Federal Reserve of the United States for 18 years. He was appointed and reappointed by four different US Presidents of both political parties in those 18 years.  He received an enormous credit for the contributions he made regarding  monetary policy and fiscal policy and US economic growth during his tenure.  More recently, he has been roundly criticized for not recognizing the signs leading to the recession of 2008 and in fact directly sponsoring some policies that fueled that recession.  His legacy is mixed.

I saw him interviewed on a recent television news magazine show.  The interviewer asked him about the criticism..."Did it bother him?".  Greenspan's candid response was "Of course it bothers me.  I'm a human being."  He then went on to say :  "I got a lot of praise I didn't deserve as well."

This comment caused me to reflect on how true this is for all leaders.  All of us who have been leaders know that a team or organization's success is the product of the contributions of many people. When the team is successful, the leader gets a disproportionate share of the credit.  Likewise, when a team isn't successful the leader also gets a disproportionate share of the of the blame.

This is what you sign up for as a leader....you are accountable for everything that happens or fails to happen during your tenure.  When things go well great leaders understand they will be given more credit than they deserve and deflect praise to those who did the work.  Conversely, when they don't go well, great leaders step up and take the criticism.  Both actions generate trust....the currency of leadership.

No comments:

Post a Comment