Something deep happens when you look in a mirror. You may believe that you are just seeing an image of yourself, but in reality, it is a super cool trick our eyes play on us with the help of light waves. The process that happens is called reflection. Reflection occurs when the light sent towards the mirror is bounced back towards your eyes at the exact opposite angle it was traveling when it hit the mirror. This is what causes what we call the “mirror effect”…
The exact opposite of this reflection would be light absorption. Absorption can be represented by a sheet of perfectly black fabric. If you look at this fabric, you don’t see anything. This is because the color black absorbs all light. None of the light hitting the fabric even has the chance to bounce back and hit your eyes because it is stopped in its tracks.
I know, I know… It’s a weird image picturing someone staring at a black sheet hanging up.
But let me explain.
As a leader, your group will undergo good times and bad times. During each of these times, you have choices. During the good times, you can either congratulate the group on the shared success, like a mirror, or you can take all the credit, like the black sheet. During the bad times, you can choose to blame the group for underperforming, reflecting back negative energy, or you can absorb part of the blame, like the black sheet.
Let’s pretend that light particles traveling through space correlate to success, to drive this point home.
During times of success, you should be a mirror. Allow those light particles to hit you and reflect back onto the audience looking at the mirror. Give credit to your team and applaud their efforts on a job well done.
A word of caution…
Don’t be too over the top nice and pretend that the feat had no flaws. I am sure that every human attempt at success is littered with failures along the way and members of your group will be able to tell if your compliments are not genuine. Ask if there was anyone that observed perhaps a different angle of reaching the same success. This approach could REFLECT the complete opposite angle the light was traveling initially (intro make sense now?), but the image in the mirror is still the same in our perception.
Once your team understands that you value their opinion, their knowledge, and their ability to complete a task successfully, they will be exponentially more open to hearing about the critiques to increase the effectiveness of the task.
NEVER BE THE SHEET WHEN DEALING WITH SUCCESS.
The moment you decide you are going to be a black sheet that absorbs all sources of light (success), is the same moment that your team will begin to lose respect for you. The moment that you stand in front of a group that worked their tails off, but tell your “higher up” that YOU take credit for the success...
You’ve lost a portion of their respect. . . and once that portion is lost, it’s tough to re-earn. There should only be one place where the WHOLE responsibility for success is pointed.
The only time you should be willing to be a black sheet is if the “light” that you’re absorbing isn’t the success, but the failures. Should your team fail, be the sheet. Be the strong and steady constant that is able to absorb the blow, and minimize the number of disgruntled rays of failure hitting your group.
I’m not telling you to protect them from reality. There should definitely be a point where you speak to your group directly. Ask them…
What shortcomings did they witness?
What improvements could they recommend?
What do they believe caused the shortcoming?
All processes and procedures discussed should be tailored to prevent the failure from reoccurring; however, during this process, there should only be one place where the WHOLE responsibility for failure rests...