You reach the full potential of your leadership capability on the day you realize it is all your fault.
You may not be the one who fumbled the baseball, but you were the leader who built the systems for catching it. You oversaw the decisions that lead to selecting that player and putting them in that position. You supervised the training and development process, you signed off on the uniform that included the shape of hat peak that failed to fully block the sun from the player’s eyes, you hired the coaching staff that lead a hard practice the day before that exerted the player and you approved the use of the analytics that told the trainers the player was fit to play. Ultimately, you created the culture that allowed failure to occur. They missed a catch and it is all your fault.
Leaders who own the A to Z of their team’s output ensure the sustainability of their input. When subpar performance occurs, we must realize that our fingerprints are all over the products our teams create.
There was an insurance reclamation in the pharmacy. It means we dispensed a drug that was expensive enough for an insurance company to spend their time auditing. We were informed that we coded the billing incorrectly, resulting in us losing a chunk of money. They found a loophole.
Although I was not the Pharmacist who signed off the prescription, nor the assistant who billed the drug plan, nor the technician who reconciled the paperwork, the loss is my fault. And I was not even on site that day!
I oversaw the development of that specific workflow. I also hired many of those staff members and did not yet create an atmosphere where they fully understood that specific billing procedure for that drug plan. I did not follow-up on the reconciliation process frequently enough and I made the schedule for that staff on duty that day.
I am sure there was more I could have done up to that point to minimize distractions in the dispensary. As much as all of these failures on my part seem a bit far-fetched, removed from action and unreasonable that they point to me directly, only when I own up to them can I begin to obtain buy-in from others to improve them and prevent them from repeating.
Accepting the blame skips the criticism step in the grieving process. Less time is spent thinking about whose fault it is and more time is spent on productively thinking about the solution.
Definition of being in charge: accepting no praise for wins and all fault for losses.
Jason is a Pharmacist and independent pharmacy owner in Ontario.
Check out more of Jason’s writing at layeredleadership.ca, where you can subscribe to the free weekly newsletter.