The Window and The Mirror

by Garrett Kite

Apr 3, 2011 | Business Strategy

I look out the window and what do I see…

Have you ever had that friend, professor, boss, or even just an acquaintance that could always find a way to blame every bad situation on anyone else but themselves? It can be a real frustration.

I was in a math class where the class average on tests was continually around the D- mark. The professor would find every reason possible to blame the overall failure of the 180 students on anything, anyone but him. He would take nearly the entire class period following a test to have discussions aimed at brainstorming reasons why the students were continually scoring so low. This isn’t intended to come across as a jab at the professor (well, maybe it is), but I wish students could have simply held up a mirror as their answer to the professor’s inquiry.  A nice look in the mirror may have been this professor’s best answer. As debatable as the issue may be among academia, it’s obvious that at least part of the class’ poor performance was due to the professor’s teaching, or lack thereof, of the subject matter.

My grade was on the line in that class. That’s frustrating. But how much more frustrating can these particular situations be when they occur in the work place? When your income is on the line, when you spend eight plus hours a day there, when your progress and reputation are at stake, and when you can’t rely on the issue to fix itself when the semester is over and the class ends? You’ll face that boss, that employee, or that co-worker everyday.

Fortunately, there is a simple fix for everyone involved. It’s commonly known in the business world as the window and the mirror concept. Ironically another professor, this time in a business management class, masterfully taught me this principle. The secret is this: great leaders (or professors, employees, students, or people in general) look out the window to give credit to anyone but himself or herself when things go well. Of equal importance, however, they look in the mirror to take responsibility, never blaming others when things don’t go well.

Of course our natural inclination is to blame others when there is a problem. It’s just easier to look out that window and blame whoever you see. Sometimes the problem really might not be your fault either, and you feel justified in placing the blame on whoever is responsible. The fact is that great leaders will step back, take a look in the mirror, evaluate the situation without pointing a finger at others, and make the appropriate corrections.

If you can master this technique, the window and the mirror, then you’re on the right track to running a solid force of dedicated, loyal, hard working employees…or class of college math students.

Do you know someone that has this ability? Share your window and the mirror experiences with us!

By , Owner at Kite Media

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