Monkey Puzzle Blog

Company director questions employees

Isn’t taking responsibility the same as taking the blame?

Many organisations cite a ‘no blame’ culture whilst behind the scenes fault finding is a major preoccupation. We all like to believe that there is no blame and it’s best to focus on moving forward, but human nature depicts that we feel a lot better about ourselves when something is not ‘our fault’, so naturally we will look for fault and blame outside ourselves and be hugely relieved if we find it...

A fear of being wrong (and proving otherwise) is understandable, if unproductive. If you want to lead a successful organisation, team or life then moving beyond this fear will be an important part of your development.

Zero sum thinking, in that we see life as a win - lose, is an evolutionary adaptation from a time when we lived in small tribes, and when mates, food and resources were finite and scarce according to Neuroscientist Dan Meegan. Although this is no longer the case, we can still view win - win situations as win - lose. If you are right, then I must be wrong. If something doesn’t work, we must find out who caused it, and deal with them. Zero sum thinking is still alive and well in organisations and in society, even in seemingly loving relationships.

Whenever we are scrapping around trying to pin the blame anywhere except us, we are not resolving things or finding better ways. Some things are not your fault but are your responsibility to fix. If you are a manager or leader, you will encounter this situation frequently.

To bring less blame and more responsibility into your culture:

  • Focus root cause explorations on ‘what’ happened not ‘who’ did it.
  • If people get into accusatory situations draw the conversation towards an objective analysis of it. Keep all group discussion away from personal insults and blame.
  • Hold individuals accountable for their behaviour rather than placing blame. This is a subtle distinction that empowers people to put right where they have messed up, and learn in the process.

Read the full article by signing up to receive Great Minds Think Differently by email each month.

If you’d like to learn more about leadership and how to bring out the best in you so you can be a guiding light for others to follow, read Karen and John’s book ‘Real Leaders for the Real World’

Our Mind Mastery course will teach you how to evaluate a situation from different perspectives so you can solve problems, overcome conflicts and improve your relationships. Find out more.

Thanks to the New Scientist ( 6th Dec 2017 edition article ‘Thoughtlessly Thoughtless’ by Graham Lawton ) for informing this article on Zero Sum thinking.


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