Blog: Windows and Mirrors in Leadership



As a leader, do you use a window/mirror approach?  This is a meaningful question for authentic and effective leaders to ask themselves.  When things are going well, and goals are being met or exceeded, a compelling leader will use the window approach.  The window approach transpires when a leader points out the window and says, “look out there… they did it… they are the reason for our success!”  On the contrary, when there is a failure or let down, the leader with integrity holds up the mirror and says, “I am responsible. Where did I fail to communicate, motivate, understand, or explain?” When using the window/mirror approach, it is important for leaders to know their intrinsic as well as their extrinsic motivations.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to be valued and appreciated for the work you have done (and for some leaders this is an important source of motivation).  Nevertheless, it becomes your responsibility to share the glory once you step into the leadership role. As leaders, let’s hold up the mirror with the following questions:

  1. Have I ever taken credit when I shouldn’t have?
  2. Were there times when I had the opportunity to share the glory and chose not to?
  3. Have I ever pointed the finger at someone or something for a failure or a mistake?
  4. What are three action steps I will take to use the window/mirror approach in my leadership?
  5. Who can be an “accountability partner” to help me make sure that I am following through with these new leadership behavior patterns?
  6. If receiving credit is an important motivation for me, how can I share the credit and still be fulfilled?
  7. What will be the benefits to me if I use the window/mirror approach to leadership?
  8. What will be the benefits for my team if I use the window/mirror approach?

We know from Gallup research (http://www.gallup.com/poll/150383/majority-american-workers-not-engaged-jobs.aspx) that only 28% of employees are “actively engaged”, a staggering 53% are “disengaged” and 19% are “actively disengaged”.  These numbers have drastic negative effects to the bottom line.  But leaders who practice the window/mirror principle create a bond with their employees to help increase employee commitment and the organization’s bottom line.  Leaders also start to see team members who are happier and more self-confident.  The window/mirror approach to leadership builds trust, loyalty, and employee engagement throughout the organization. Do you have any questions to add to our “mirror” list above?  Can you think of any instances where you have successfully employed the window/mirror approach to leadership, or some instances where you wish you did?  If so, I hope you will share your insights with us. Having a coach is a powerful way to become more effective with the window/mirror approach.  A coach will partner with you to help you uncover leadership blind spots, and steer you towards a more effective leadership approach.  MSBCoach specializes in leadership and executive coaching.  If you are interested in learning how to work with a coach and improve your leadership effectiveness, I invite you to contact us today to find out more.


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