If we want those being led to accept responsibility, we must try accepting total—not partial—blame for everything and anything that goes wrong within the realm of our leadership (tweet this). We’ll be surprised how much easier it is for people to admit that they were responsible when we take this stance. If we examine our own response when someone tried to blame us totally—or absolve us totally—we’ll see why and how this law works so consistently.
There’s another reason adhering to this law will almost always help a leader. The need for autonomy is within us all. We all have a need to control our own lives. Only the degree of this need varies within us. Therefore, when someone tries to take total blame, we often can’t let him or her. To do so would infringe upon the need we all have to control our own lives.
Without accepting this law, you may automatically—and rightfully in some instances—take action which compounds the problem. For instance, a teacher may rightfully blame students for not listening or not following directions. Remember, however, one of the hardest things for people to say is “I was wrong” or “It was my fault.” And it often takes a special approach and unique action to get them to do so.
Remembering the Law of Blame will serve you well when you want to correct problems. It will help you when you want to get people to accept responsibility. It will help when you want to motivate those being led to positive and immediate action. Know, too, that when a leader tries to pass along or give the responsibility for failure to someone else, that leader gives up a measure of leadership control. In the process, those being led will not follow or have respect for the leader who takes such a stance. In addition, those being led may absolve themselves of all responsibility in the process—even for their own blatant mistakes. It’s almost impossible to get those being led to want your leadership if you habitually place blame.
This article was excerpted from the book Causing Others to Want Your Leadership…for Administrators.