Being a leader is great when things are going well. When things are failing, on the other hand, that’s when it’s really demanding and challenging for leaders. Every time things breaks and goes wrong, the obvious question is why it happened and who is responsible. It’s human nature for us to find a single person or thing to place the blame on. What most commonly goes unasked or not considered enough is the effects of blaming someone or something. The effect of blaming others are extremely important to understand. Not to include the effects blame into consideration process leads to long term problems.
It is quite common for people often deflect responsibility and place blame on someone or something else when something goes wrong. Few people wants to admit they’re wrong or at fault. When we take responsibility for things that goes wrong, we fear judgement. We also fear the punishment that comes along with it. You can read more reasons why people place blame here.
Leaders are held to a different standard. When things goes well, leaders are expected to give credits to their teams. When things fail, leaders are expected to take responsibility for the failure. You can read more about this in my article The Prize and Price For Being a Leader here. Although the expectations are for leaders to be accountable for failures, many still don’t. Many leaders still instinctively point fingers at others without considering the effects of blaming.
Next time you are faced with failure and need to come up with an explanation, consider the following.
- Culprit – When directing blame onto others, the obvious gain is immediate. You’re absolved from responsibility and punishments for the failure. You retain your job security and the stress of the situation is reduced. Yet you must also be aware that by defecting responsibility, that stress and risk of being fired is now placed on the person who is taking the blame. While you may have sidestep the issue, the consequences is just now taken by someone else.
- Respect – When others sees you not owning up to the problem, they lose respect for you. A leader must be ready to take the blame for their team and if you fail to do so, you’ve failed your team. You may have side step the consequences from your superior, but you’ve lost the respect of your team.
- Credibility – Losing the respect of your team members is only one part. You also risk losing your credibility from your team, your associates as well as your superiors. Not taking accountability for failures, you betray the trust of a leader. Others will recognize that and your credibility will be a jeopardy.
- Impact – Once you’ve lost the respect and credibility, you also lose the ability to be impactful. Since others will doubt your intentions and cannot believe in your abilities to fend for them, they will be less inclined to follow your lead. Your ability to be an effective leader is drastically reduced.
- Future – As you’ve lost the ability to be impactful with your team, you’ve lost the ability to lead effectively. Moving forward, your job becomes much more challenging. Your team scrutinize everything you say. They will question your motives. When things do go wrong, they will be out to fend for themselves as they will expect you to betray them.
When things goes wrong, deflecting blame is very common. However, it is not acceptable for a good leader to deflect blame onto someone else. Leaders are held at a higher standard and cannot behave like normal employees. There may be immediate benefits to deflecting blame, but the effects of blaming others are great. Carefully consider your options when faced with this situation next time and understand the long term effects of blaming others before you do so.
Photo by: Pressmaster
Denny Nguyen, a veteran IT leader and experienced operational manager with 15+ years working in the software and software related service industry. Currently, Denny oversees global operations of LogiGear including IT infrastructure and services, and facility worldwide and marketing and business development for the APAC region.
Started out as a test engineer, Denny has excelled his career into project management, IT management, account management, customer relation management, and marketing and sales management. In 2004, when LogiGear began to establish its present in Vietnam with two Software Testing & Research centers in Saigon and the third center in 2009 in Danang, Denny was instrumental and the key leader who was chartered to build out the entire foundation and infrastructure for LogiGear to grow for the next twenty years.