Almost 20 years ago, my first management position came with some simple words of advice:

  1. Give All the Credit
  2. Take All the Blame
  3. Never Make a Request You Wouldn't Fulfill

My manager shared and lived these words. His advice has driven my actions on every task, in every position, at every company and team I have served. Although I have gained experience and understanding that influences how I lead, the foundation remains here. Let me explain.

1. Give All the Credit

Your employees and co-workers deserve your appreciation and loyalty. I prefer to lead from encouragement and inspiration. People yearn to achieve and want be recognized. When you ask people to take on work, their success is yours. Make sure experience your gratitude.

2. Take All the Blame

However small the task, when you are asked if it is complete – you rely on someone else to have completed it. As a leader, if your team fails, you have failed. Own the failure. Learn from it. Most importantly, help your team grow from it in a constructive way.

3. Never Make a Request You Wouldn't Fulfill

For me, the term 'servant leadership' has become overused – bordering on cliché. (Yes, I am guilty of using the phrase myself.) Unfortuantely, it is rarely exercised wth humility and genuine support. Do yourself a favor and invest in your team's success, even if you can't lend a hand.

The same boss that shared these rules with me pulled an all-nighter with two of us trying to hit a deadline. He couldn't affect the outcome, but he woudln't leave our sides – except to retrieve refreshments and encourage breaks. This act of leadership affects me to this day.

As I mentioend before, I prefer to lead with encouragement and inspiration. These rules have served me well, and I believe have built great teams. What words of wisdom have shaped your leadership style?