Throwing Someone Under The Bus

throwing someone under the bus



I was recently in a group meeting and I heard from a colleague gave me pause.  It was a very normal and typical meeting where we each shared our goals and progress, as well as some of the challenges we’re facing.  Absolutely just your average meeting.  But then when it was time for one of our manager to share her status, she caught me off guard.  And I assumed she caught others off guard as well.  Instead of just giving status and progress, she went straight to saying that she did her job, but it’s not done because another manager didn’t respond to her, so it’s not done and it’s not her fault.

I’ve worked with this colleague for over a decade and I can attest to the fact that she is not malicious nor did she have any intent to throw anyone under the bus.  But when she opened up her updates in that manner, someone definitely found themselves under the bus, regardless of intent.  This happens unknowingly at times.  We accidentally put others in a bad light without meaning to do so.  Needless to say, throwing others under the bus should be avoided.  Here are several reasons why.

  • Team Confidence – As with any situation, you want to have the confidence of your team and you want your team to have confidence in themselves. When you throw someone under the bus, your team will have doubt in you.  They will worry if you will ever throw them under the bus.  This act, knowingly or not, will have your team lose focus on their main priority.  They may be more distracted and constantly fear if they’ll be the next person getting blamed for something.

  • Office Drama – In the office environment, you want to spend your time and effort devoted to success and achieving goals. What you don’t want to do is to deal with office drama.  Throwing someone under the bus is definitely a good way to start office drama.  This will create friction and discontent in the office.  You can read more about office drama and how to avoid them in my article Avoid Workplace Drama.

  • Abuse power – When you’re throwing someone under the bus, particularly if that someone is a subordinate, it will appear as if you’re abusing your authority. As a leader, you want to protect your team instead of putting the blame on them and using them as a scape goat.  An abusive leader will not have loyal followers.  The outcome could be detrimental to your ability to lead and achieve success.  Read more about abusive leaders and the effects here.

Throwing others under the bus and blaming others are sometimes difficult to avoid.  The consequences of it sometimes isn’t thought through or even thought of at all.  Read this article to find out more about the effects of blaming others.  If you happen to catch yourself about to throw someone under the bus, consider the following before you do so.

It is understandable to want to show that you’re doing your best.  You want to show that you’ve done all you could have to contribute to success.  But if things aren’t going as planned, it could simply be instinctive to deflect blame.  But remember that leaders don’t blame.  Leaders take the blame, whether it’s their fault or not.  It’s not easy, but leaders do the difficult thing.  So if you catch yourself about to deflect blame, step back and think twice before doing so.

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