A while back I was sitting at a coffee shop with a friend and our conversation took us to the subject of people’s unwillingness to take responsibility for their decisions and actions and their tendency to blame others and complain about all their problems. My friend said, as he set down his latte, “If I could buy these people a custom t-shirt, it would say in big bold letters, ‘Blame & Complain.'”
Now that’s a t-shirt no leader wants to be offered. To blame and to complain are the opposite attitudes and behaviors of people who are making a difference in the lives other others and in the world.
Instead of blaming others for problems, leaders take responsibility when things don’t go right even when it’s not directly their fault. The legendary college football coach, Bear Bryant, use to say “If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, we did it. If anything goes really good, then you did it.” Blame, self-justification, and skirting responsibility takes leaders and their teams nowhere good. It only leads to loss of credibility, respect and broken trust ending in fractured relationships. And all those places create a spiral of poor performance which will never be broken but only exasperated by blaming and complaining.
As to complaining, leaders don’t waste a New York minute complaining because it doesn’t do one thing to solve problems. A leader’s job is to help their team move forward, to tackle problems and to solve them. This takes hard work, time, energy and focus, all of which get diluted with complaining. As I often tell our team “If it wasn’t for problems and obstacles we face every day, SpringHill wouldn’t need most of us. Our job is to solve, deal and prevent problems so why complain about them; it’s why most of us have jobs.”
So don’t ever be tempted to wear the “Blame & Complain” t-shirt instead always be quick to put on the “Responsible & Will Solve It” shirt, it’s the one t-shirt leaders are always willing put on.
To avoid becoming a victim when working in an unhealthy organization a person needs to decide whether to stay and try to rise above the unhealthiness or go and get away from it. If a person stays, they’ll need to be in a place where they can protect themselves, assuring they don’t become a victim. Typically this isn’t a good long-term strategy because organizational health is contagious and at some point a person will catch the same disease affecting the organization. So the best option is to move on.
But when the cause of an unraveling career and life is the person’s own unhealthiness then they’re at risk of losing their job. You see, unhealthy people typically do not take responsibility for the consequences of their decisions and actions. They begin to blame others, including their employer, for their messy life. When this happens a person becomes a victim, and since people don’t like to work with victims, they slowly lose their influence in the organization and ultimately lose their jobs.
And the reason people don’t like to work with victims is because they’re either a downer to be around or they begin to act like a martyr. Martyrs find self-worth by believing their sacrificing more for the organization than anyone else. They believe their sacrifice gives them a special dispensation to do and say what they want to people they perceived to be less committed (which is pretty much everyone else). Sometimes victims and martyrs will rally together against all the perceived injustices done to them which only alienate them further from the rest of the organization.
So don’t let yourself become a victim, take responsibility for your life and career, and you’ll never leave an organization because of someone else’s decision.43.928283-85.286682