No one likes to have a finger pointed at them – either literally or figuratively. There’s just something uncomfortable about the whole thing. However, when it comes to pointing the finger at someone else… now that’s a different story. Most of us don’t seem to mind that scenario so much. Maybe it’s because we like to be “in charge.” Maybe we just love being right. Or, maybe we just don’t like to get the blame for anything. The bitter irony in all of this for leaders, is that to truly grow in your leadership capacity, you not only have to be able to take the blame, but you have to be willing to point the finger at yourself.
I’ve seen many-a-leader struggle mightily with this concept (me included). There are some very important things to realize regarding leadership when it comes to blame and correction:
#1 It may actually be your fault.
#2 Your organization or team might fear you, but they won’t respect someone who can never be wrong. You might be surprised how proficient your team can be at smiling to your face and resenting you in their heart.
#3 If the blame lies with someone else, then it’s still your fault. You are the leader. You are only as good or as bad as the performance of your team. That means taking the good along with the bad. Go back to #1.
#4 When you think you are never wrong, your ego and self-preservation mentality becomes bigger than the team. There may be short-term success, but this focus on self is contagious and will eventually cause a team to implode. If just one person is more concerned with themselves than they are the mission, you are no longer a team. What’s more, when that person is the leader, long-term failure is guaranteed.
#5 Leadership is filled with pressure, but the pressure one puts on themselves to have to always be right is unbearable. Individuals who cannot admit they are wrong are some of the most miserable and unfulfilled people.
So, if you want to grow as a leader, you need to learn to accept the blame when things don’t go well for your organization or team. But don’t worry, you can still point the finger away from you… just be sure you’re in front of the mirror.