I was talking to my colleague today.
He and I don’t get on very well. We have different views on many things. But I realised today one thing we disagree about is responsibility. He regards any failure as being the responsibility of the team beneath us.
“They’ve not managed to do this…”
“They can’t tell us this…”
Sometimes, his complaints are completely unrealistic.
However, I realise that I’ve started sharing that responsibility. And I think that’s the right thing to do. The team does what we tell them to do. They get their attitudes and values from us. If they fail, we fail.
I’ve never thought it quite as clearly as that, but I think I will from now on.
And I think this is important when you manage teams. You have to share the responsibility. That way you get involved with the problem and help them solve it. You also remember that your attitude affects them in so many ways. In many ways, managing a team is like having children. They look up to you.
I’m reminded of the speech Daniels gives in the final episode of the first season of The Wire:
Couple weeks from now, you’re gonna be in some district somewhere with 11 or 12 uniforms looking to you for everything. And some of them are gonna be good police. Some of them are gonna be young and stupid. A few are gonna be pieces of shit. But all of them will take their cue from you. You show loyalty, they learn loyalty. You show them it’s about the work, it’ll be about the work. You show them some other kinda game, then that’s the game they’ll play. I came on in the Eastern, and there was a piece-of-shit lieutenant hoping to be a captain, piece-of-shit sergeants hoping to be lieutenants. Pretty soon we had piece-of-shit patrolmen trying to figure the job for themselves. And some of what happens then is hard as hell to let down. Comes a day you’re gonna have to decide whether it’s about you or about the work.