“That wasn’t my fault”. Or how about, “I didn’t do it.” Or maybe “that mistake is totally on that coworker.” We play the blame a lot at work, and though we don’t like to admit it, we like it.
We sit in blame because it feels pretty darn good for something to be someone else’s fault. What a relief it can be. Here’s the problem though, blame makes for bad work environments. It kills collaboration and smothers innovation. How do some teams get weighed down by blame? More importantly, how do we overcome it?
In this episode, I talk about blame - one game we shouldn’t participate in at work.
Celebrating failure actually keeps people out of the blame game and focused on innovation. - Jen Thornton
[00:00:00] Blame. It feels so good. Welcome back, friends. This is your place for cutting edge tools, exercises, best practices, and modern leadership strategies. Because when the world is changing, it's time to bring our leadership styles along for the ride. Whether you're a company leader, a corporate visionary, an entrepreneur, this show gives you new insights into the neuroscience.
[00:00:26] And the language of leadership, plus practical steps and tips to lead your teams in a powerful way. It'll also help you keep your people happy and engaged, all while achieving your biggest goals. I'm your host, Jen Thornton. I'm a talent strategist, a brain-based executive coach, speaker, and the founder of 304 coaching.
[00:00:45] Now, let's fix leadership. So why do we sit and blame so often? Well, it's because it actually feels pretty darn good. We might tell ourselves that it doesn't feel good, but when we give up all of our control and move into blame, it's no longer our fault. And what a relief that can be. I. Before we get into how to move from blame to control, let's talk about why there's so much blame gaming in the workplace.
[00:01:13] And there can be a lot of reasons for the why, but at the base of all of these reasons, it's our good old friend fear. There is fear of consequences. When something goes wrong, our instinct is to save ourselves. Our brain quickly looks for alternative reasons. When we think we're in trouble, that keep us out trouble.
[00:01:33] Blaming is a great way to protect our self-esteem. If it isn't in our control, then it isn't negatively impacting us. Could be a lack of accountability in a culture. When top leaders can't take ownership or blame others, then of course everyone else is gonna do the same thing. Cultures that drive unhealthy.
[00:01:54] Competition can also struggle with blame. It becomes a way to survive in the day-to-day competition. If you know you can be voted off the island at any time, then blame just becomes a tool to protect ourselves. It keeps us on the island. Blaming others is also a great way to rationalize our own mistakes and maintain that consistency on how we see ourselves.
[00:02:18] And in some cultures, well, those cultures reward blame. It's either blame or be blamed Through social influence, leaders can teach their teams that blame is the way to live. And at the end of the day, let's not forget the most common reason. We are humans and instinctively our brains like to blame. It feels good and it can serve as a coping mechanism in high stress, high stress situations.
[00:02:44] It provides a temporary outlet for frustration. It helps individuals temporarily relieve tension, and it diverts their focus from their own perceived failures. But here at Let's Fix Leadership, we are trying to recognize these old school leadership [00:03:00] thoughts and practices, and we together are finding alternative ways to lead.
[00:03:08] Let's take a quick break from the conversation. Do you have new leaders on your team and you can see their potential? You can see their runway, but you cannot figure out how to get 'em across the finish line. Reach out to 3 0 4 coaching and learn more about our brain-based competency focused executive coaching.
[00:03:28] So recognizing that negative impact on blame in the workplace is a great step towards fostering a better professional environment. If you find yourself caught in the blame game, here are some strategies to help you manage your own actions and shift towards a more productive mindset. We're gonna start with owning our own mistakes.
[00:03:46] You are human, therefore you will make mistakes. Accepting this fact will help you accept responsibility for your actions. It's a sign of maturity and accountability. And when you own up to your own errors, you create an environment that encourages others to do the same. It's fostering a culture of honesty and growth.
[00:04:06] How about this? Instead of blaming, why don't you offer support? Extend a helping hand to colleagues who are facing difficult times. Work with your team and your peers to find the best options. Make thinking a team sport so everyone contributes to the success or the failure. By working together, you're not only fostering a positive work environment, but you're also breaking the cycle of blame.
[00:04:33] And here's a crazy thought. Why don't you celebrate failure? And that might sound a little weird in the world that celebrates perfectionism, but celebrating failure keeps people out of the blame game and actually keeps them focused on innovation. And people ask me all the time, you know, how do I move towards a more modern view of leadership?
[00:04:56] And the first thing I say is, as a leader, you have to manage your own internal fear. You can't lead a fearless organization while you're fighting your own fear inside. So understand your own level of fear and how often you go towards the blame game. This helps you grow over time when you are able to recognize it.
[00:05:17] It'll help you manage your emotional responses and challenging situations. And when you feel that blame game bubbling up, simply take a moment to collect your thoughts. It can help prevent a knee jerk blame reaction, allow you tore, allow you to respond in a more thoughtful way. And of course we always wanna focus on the solution and not focus on the blame.
[00:05:40] If you're in a leadership role, then you're gonna have to manage through difficult situations, and you'll have to manage through failures. It's just part of the job. Instead of fixating on who is at fault, shift your energy towards. Finding the solution to rectify the situation. Use all that blame energy and move it towards solution energy so that you can quickly find a solution to course correct.
[00:06:06] And of course, be the voice of modern leadership. When others move towards blame, help redirect that energy to the solution. The impulse to blame others in the workplace is a common human tendency. It's just how we were built. But it's important to recognize its negative impact on team dynamics and your personal growth.
[00:06:31] By practicing self-awareness, open communication, and accountability, you can break free from the blame game and contribute to a more productive and supportive work environments. Remember the journey towards fostering a culture of collaboration and growth starts with small, intentional steps that are taken by each individual within the team.
[00:06:53] Because when we are not playing the blame game, we are fixing leadership.
[00:07:01] Thanks for listening to Let's Fix Leadership by hanging out with me today. You're already on your path. If you're looking to learn more and to see if your company is a good fit for our coaching and leadership education, then hey, visit 304 coaching.com. If you got value outta this podcast, share it with a friend and it would mean the world to me if you would leave a thoughtful review and a rating on iTunes.
[00:07:23] Thanks again for listening, and I appreciate your work in fixing leadership.