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The One Way To End A ‘Blame Culture’

The One Way To End A ‘Blame Culture’

Naked Leader Week 899 – 23 November 2020

Time to read: 1 minute 10 seconds

– and you can do it today

Before Naked Leader, I was in Information Technology (IT), most recently as Head of IT in Cornhill Insurance – now Allianz.

Every month I would be invited into the Business Executive Meeting to give our team’s update. My preparation for this included donning an American Football Outfit, because all that ever happened during these 30 minute session was I had the proverbial kicked out of me.

In one particular meeting, I knew in advance that my punishment was going to be more severe than normal – The ‘System’ had been slow and ‘down’, 3 major projects were running late and we were becoming even more disliked than usual.

The phone rang, they were ‘ready for me’ and in I went.

The CEO went straight for the jugular, he looked straight at me and said: “David, what on earth is going wrong with the Claims system, I mean, whose fault is it?”

I don’t know how or why I said what I did – probably out of sheer desperation at the last 4 words, so commonly asked in so many organisations.

I replied – “It’s my fault, I’m sorry and I will get it sorted.”

(Long pause)

The FD chimed in – “And my system was down yesterday, was that your fault as well?”

“Yes” I responded – George – FD – and I got on very well, and my single word caused him to give me a wry smile.

The COO tried a different tack: “I was very pleased with the service on the Help Desk yesterday – was that down to you David?”

“No” I said, “thank you, but that was down to Rachel – I will pass on your thanks if I may?”

And so it went on – everything that was going wrong was my fault, while everything that was going well was thanks to someone else, whom I named each time.

Somehow, in doing so, I stumbled upon something very special:

As a leader, take the blame for everything and the praise for nothing…

…In ‘public’.

What happens in private, one to one, is up to you.

In Naked Leader we are often asked how to get rid of a blame culture.

The answer is get your leaders to do this – it works in person, it works on Zoom – it always works.

With my love and best wishes to you all



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