Leadership 101: The Blame Game

Leadership is about learning what works and what doesn’t. Once you find out what doesn’t work, the really smart leaders will do everything in their power to make sure they don’t ever do it again. A really smart leader would also want everyone around them not to make the same mistakes because it lowers productivity and group conductivity (the natural energy in a group) within your working environment.

Blame is one of those things that doesn't work.

The only good that comes from blaming in a problem is to guard your ego. Personal insecurities can strangle healthy teams and vibrant working environments. Using blame will break teams up, crash enthusiasm, and undermine confidence with the people you are leading. Blaming others will cause people who are following you to have an, “only look out for themselves” attitude because they feel like you are only looking out for your ego. Often, leaders will waste time blaming others, or equipment, or even the problem instead of pulling the team together and finding a solution to the problem.

The best of the blame game.

If leaders aren’t careful, they can find themselves passing blame around like a hot potato. This one time when I was a Banquet and Catering Manager, I got caught up in the blame game. It was my first management experience and something went wrong. We had a wedding and afterwards the mother of the bride told us that tablecloths were the wrong color. This sounds small, but something like this could ruin our reputation in the high class wedding industry. The secret is in the details! So I got all the leaders together to see what went wrong. I foolishly ask, “So, what went wrong?” The banquet supervisor said, “It wasn’t my fault, I didn’t do the set-up! (blaming others)” Then, the set-up crew leader spoke up, “I just do what the set-up sheet told me to do! (blaming equipment)” The banquet coordinator who does the sheets explained, “It wasn’t me, the mom is color blind! (blaming the problem)” We went around and around for more than an hour without the problem being solved. I left that meeting with two valuable lessons. First, I should have asked, “How can we fix this?” instead of, “What went wrong?” Which says to my team, “Ok, who’s at fault?” The second thing I learned is I should have stopped the blame when it started. It took months for our team to recover from mistrust and hurt feelings.

Don’t blame the problem, fix the problem.

Often times, I see young and inexperienced leaders fall into the trap of blaming everything in the world they can think of instead of working on the solution to the problem. Don’t waste valuable time fixing the blame on something or someone. Spend all of your time working on a solution to the problem. When a mistake happens, acknowledge it, and then help others find the solution to change it so it doesn’t happen again. Only the best leaders know when to say, “I messed up!” Learn how to keep short accounts of other’s mistakes and they will most likely do the same for you.