If you grew up with siblings (especially younger ones), you most likely learned how to pass the buck when you did something wrong. I see this a lot at my house with an almost 6 year old and a 3 year old. At times they are both pointing at each other, and neither wants to admit responsibility for what happened.
We talk a lot about honesty, personal responsibility, and asking for forgiveness with our kids. But all of the talk means nothing if they don’t grow up witnessing that behavior from us. It’s one of the many reasons that being a parent is such a significant leadership role. Our kids are always watching, and they’re paying particular attention to whether or not we practice what we preach.
It’s not always easy to admit when we’re wrong. But it is a clear and undeniable sign of leadership maturity. I would venture to say that we grow as leaders each and every time we take personal responsibility for our mistakes and errors in judgment.
The Blame Game never ends well. You’ve played it. I’ve played it. And it is always costly.
I recently read this blog post by John G. Miller about the 7 Costs of Blame. I couldn’t agree with him more. John shares that blame destroys morale, reduces creativity, lowers productivity, increases fear, drives wedges between colleagues, breaks down teams, and solves no problems. And often blame accomplishes all of the above at once. (If you haven’t read John’s best-selling book QBQ! The Question Behind the Question, I highly recommend it. You can buy it here.)
If we don’t engage in The Blame Game, what should we do instead? Practice personal responsibility. When something goes wrong, take a step back and reflect on what YOU could have done differently. Ask questions and listen with an open mind. Have honest conversations. Admit when you’re wrong. Share what you learned through the experience.
The Blame Game Alternative is personal responsibility, which in my humble opinion is a prerequisite to leadership.