Terri Hughes Blog

...Not My Fault

Posted on Monday, July 14, 2014

When things go ‘wrong’ it’s very human to want to assign blame - we think this helps us understand what happened in order to move forward but it also prevents us from seeing where we contributed to the situation. As long as it’s someone else’s fault, we can deny our own contribution.   We get busy focusing on other people’s shortcomings… and the more we look, the more we notice. Great way to avoid looking at ourselves!

Steve Coburn's Blow-Up

If you caught the Belmont Stakes race last month with favorite California Chrome as a potential contender for the coveted Triple Crown… you likely saw owner Steve Coburn’s emotional blow-up when his horse came in fourth.  He even placed blame on the horse that won!

When we allow ourselves to focus on blame, the outcome is never good, whether it’s within a leadership role, or like Steve with an emotional outburst that gets replayed over and over.  It almost doesn’t matter that he apologized profusely once he calmed down.  What will be remembered are his initial words and actions.

Cathy’s Catastrophes

Cathy is a leader you likely know.  She is talented, smart, works hard and takes great pride in her leadership career.  She leads a team of thirty-five professionals and gets results but never achieves the exceptional level she strives for.  And… there’s always someone on the team to blame for the less than perfect performance.

The more frustrated she becomes, the more she singles out those that contributed to a mistake or simply places blame on the entire team.  The team continues to perform carefully and marginally, based on the fear of disappointing her, and being punished by her emotional outbursts.  The team sees her behaviors as a lack of trust and confidence in them, and so they perform accordingly… not at their best.

And worst of all, Cathy can’t see how her behaviors are creating exactly the results she doesn’t want.

Questions to Ask:

When things go wrong, before acting on assumptions or placing blame, ask these questions first:

  • How did I contribute to this situation?
  • Was I clear with my expectations?  How do I know?
  • Can I see something that I did or did not do that made the situation worse?

Remember, just a few simple shifts can make a big difference!



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