Sometimes the Leader is to Blame

As a senior manager I always signed up to the view that when something goes wrong we should resist the temptation to find out who was to blame. It’s not just that a blame culture makes people afraid to make decisions,  inhibits innovation and risk taking it’s unfair because when something goes wrong there are usually a range of reasons why. But sometimes the leader is to blame. There is a difference between resolute and stubborn, between being focused and having tunnel vision, between being decisive and being inflexible. Sometimes you have to recognise your great plan is not working.

A leader who changes the plan every time they come up against strong opposition is very frustrating to work for. A leader who refuses to change the plan despite the evidence it’s not working and simply demands a redoubling of effort is a nightmare to work for. 

Those who built their career on being “strong” leaders, determined, decisive and demanding, think changing their mind/decision/plan in response to the concerns raised by their own senior staff is a sign of weakness which will undermine their position of leader. The answer of course is not to base your leadership style on being “strong”. 


Blair Mcpherson former Director, author and blogger 

Security level: Public

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