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Earning Influence and Respect, and Extreme Ownership of Everything, (pages 97-107)

Part One: Leadership Strategies, 2. Core Tenets, C. Earning Influence and Respect, D. Extreme Ownership of Everything, (pages 97-107)


C. Earning Influence and Respect

Along with the leader developing trust and building relationships, the leader must also earn influence and respect. Too often, leaders feel they are owed respect because of their position. While rank or position does carry respect and influence, it is limited. “Similar to building trust, to build respect and influence you have to give respect and influence”. What does it mean to treat people with respect? One goes about this by allowing them to give their opinion, listening to them, not interrupting them, not ridiculing their job, and sharing hard tasks. Additionally, always attempt to incorporate their ideas into what you are attempting to accomplish.

I am reminded of the saying “Being a leader is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” when I read this section. In the past, I have encountered those in charge who solely depended on their title when establishing influence and respect. That initial respect only lasted a short time. After that, the leader had little influence and respect. Consequently, I found most looked to others for leadership. I found this turned out in two ways. In a positive light when the other leaders had the same mission and vision as the leader. In a negative light when the other leaders each had personal agendas. This then led to a fragmented organization void a common vision and mission.

D. Extreme Ownership of Everything

Extreme ownership is one of the most important beliefs in leadership. It’s meaning is quite simple, the leader takes responsibility for everything. Every fault is attributed to the leader. Even when the leader wasn’t directly responsible for the mistake, the leader must own it. That is, mistakes by subordinates usually result from poor direction or training, which is the leader's responsibility. If the mistake was the result of the subordinate not able to perform their job, it’s the leader’s responsibility to have known that and should have not put that person in that position. When the leader fully embraces extreme ownership, preemptive ownership develops. Preemptive ownership refers to the leader taking ownership to prevent problems from developing in the first place. What can get in the way of this is ego. This defensive mechanism must be overcome. When getting blamed by your boss, it is easy to say it wasn’t your fault. However, this is the wrong answer. Accepting the blame and then immediately shifting to a proactive problem-solving strategy explaining a solution is more beneficial.

When I am being interviewed, I explain that as the Superintendent, it is my responsibility to act as an umbrella for my leaders. I need to provide protection so that they can optimally perform their jobs. My leaders need to be able to think and make timely decisions. However, on that rare occasion when the decision turns into a mistake, I take the blame. More importantly, I see this as an opportunity to work with my leader to learn from that mistake. Not only do we come up with novel solutions, but the work done with my leaders only also goes to building trust and strengthening the relationship. By providing protection, I empower my leaders and at the same time provide an environment that allows us to grow even when mistakes are made.

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© 2019 by Erik Bentzel. 

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