When you have a big success as a leader, it’s all too easy to pat yourself on the back, congratulate yourself on a job well done, and take all the credit. On the flip side, it’s also incredibly easy to blame others at the first sign of trouble. If you find yourself taking credit for successes while deflecting from blame, it might be time to look out the window or in the mirror!

What does that even mean? It’s all part of the window/mirror method, introduced by Jim Collins in his 2001 book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t.  It’s a valuable tool that leaders can use to expand their mindsets, learn from their mistakes, and practice accountability and appreciation.

After Success, Look Out the Window

After achieving success, the window/mirror method says that you should take a moment to “look out the window” at all the others who helped you get your big win. Even when you’re the leader of a team, you can’t contribute every success to good luck or your own hard work. There are likely countless others who helped along the way. Looking out the window will remind you that you’re not the only one accountable for a success.

As you look out the window, take a moment to appreciate others. Acknowledge their role, thank them for their help, and make sure they know how they contribute to every success. By acknowledging and appreciating others, you’ll boost morale and loyalty. In turn, this improves productivity and paves the path for future positive outcomes.

After Failure, Look in the Mirror

If you fail or something doesn’t go as planned, the window/mirror method says it’s time to “look in the mirror.” As the leader of a team, failure isn’t the time for blaming others or believing that you’re not accountable simply because you’re in a higher position. Hubris and blame won’t get you anywhere, and if you breeze past a failure without accountability or actionable solutions, you’ll end up making the same mistakes again.

Facing accountability can be a challenge, but it’s important to take a long, hard look at yourself and your team after a failure. Spend time reflecting about what went wrong and think about how you can avoid similar mistakes in the future. Don’t blame yourself or others, but do focus on accountability.

The Next Steps

As Simon Sinek once shared on Twitter, “failure we can do alone. Success takes help.”  The next time you encounter a success or failure, think about your behavior and remember to show appreciation by looking out the window or search for greater accountability by looking in the mirror. By using the window/mirror method, you can use both failures and successes to improve accountability and productivity for everyone in your organization.

If you’re ready to start taking steps toward changing your behavior and grow your emotional intelligence through tools like the window/mirror method, Trevor’s Leading with Emotional Intelligence program helps leaders in manufacturing find empowerment and bring out the most successful versions of themselves.

Contact Trevor today to get a spot in his next program!