Finding Someone to Blame

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When something goes bad we find someone to blame. That person is rarely ourselves. I was amazed to read about a conviction that took place this week. The Washington Post reports that,

An Italian court this week sentenced six scientists and former government official to six years in prison and $10.2 million in court costs and damages, convicting them of manslaughter for giving what the court described as a falsely reassuring statement in advance of an earthquake that killed 309 people.

That is right: government officials were held responsible for the deaths caused by an earthquake. Think about it for a second: these men were held responsible for an act of nature. Based on the grounds of negligence  these scientists will go to jail and pay the cost for an expensive trial held by the Italian government!

It sounds crazy but we often blame people for things they didn't do. Sometimes bad stuff just happens. But this doesn't keep us from finding someone to hold responsible. This happens in leadership all of the time. If my event fails it was because someone else didn't hold up their end of the deal. If my proposal doesn't come together it was because someone else didn't respond to my questions in time. There is always an assistant, contractor, or sales person to blame. Bad things are almost never our fault! But owning failure is one of the most crucial aspects of leadership. When you are the one in charge, you must own the failures of your team. It demonstrates ownership, responsibility and installs trust. Don't point the finger. Instead, own the problem and work to get it fixed.

Brent ColbyComment