Blame often comes down to the organisational culture and environment where a culprit is sought to be punished or humiliated. For this article, I’ll provide some tips as to how you can support your teams when they are being blamed or are accepting the blame when it isn’t their fault.
Blame leaders love to pass the blame onto someone else. This could be because of the points raised in this article (fear, imposter, etc.) or could simply be that’s what they are used to – or have copied from others as a perceived ‘good management style’.It comes across as immature – it’s not my rule/idea/problem, it’s his/hers/theirs.
When things go wrong within your teams, ideally someone is able to step up, take accountability and move on, but it doesn’t always happen that way. Sometimes people will introduce uncertainty or accuse others of causing the problem.
“Being proactive is more than taking initiative. It is recognising that we are responsible for our own choices and have the freedom to choose based on principles and values rather than on moods or condition. Proactive people are agents of change and choose not to be victims, to be reactive, or to blame others.” – Stephen Covey
Here are 10 tips to help you and your teams:
- Accepting blame could become a norm – ‘that’s what happens around here’.
- Be honest with your team and have their back. You’ve got to be able to get the team back on their game.
- Clarify responsibilities with your team should a mistake happen.
- If there are multiple teams involved, map the flow of work and sort out those grey areas before there’s a crisis.
- Ask and listen, intently. This can be in the form of a survey, a coffee conversation or a blind ‘ideas’ box as cheesy as that sounds.
- Encourage openness (learning, failing) and feedback – keep this on repeat so that it becomes ‘normal’.
- Recognise that there may be a fear of raising their point or asking or that they don’t know how to get through the problem.
- Make it a safe environment for your teams to feedback and make errors without fear of punishment or humiliation. Keep practising this – it gets easier and self-regulating as time goes on.
- Once you know what the worries are, work through as a team to define the priorities.
- Check that the worries for your team aren’t your worries. Check your body language and your words.
“Great leaders don’t rush to blame. They instinctively look for solutions.” – Nina Easton
Suggested reading / watching:
About this series: Common leadership worries and some tips to beat them
Leaders are typically described as strong, confident and assured people, knowing what to do when others don’t, and having the courage to act. But being a leader can put you in one of the most lonely and difficult places you will ever be, and every leader I’ve ever met has worries. Some are genuinely terrified of getting it wrong, letting people down or being found out as incapable, and they cope in different ways with these challenges.
Over the last 18 years, I have coached hundreds of people from interview candidates to team members, to colleagues, executives and board members. Across those conversations, patterns emerge and I’m sharing those common leadership worries with a few tips to overcome or manage them.
Do you have any tips to share? If so, I’d love to hear about them.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog!
Juliet – 0333 987 5252 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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