When Leaders Throw Team Members Under The Bus
This week, I’m teaching EntreLeadership here in Nashville. The topic of throwing team members under the bus is a common conversation. Here’s a post I wrote earlier this year on the topic.
As a leader, one of my pet peeves is watching other leaders not take responsibility. In fact, I think it’s ridiculous for a person to be in leadership if their only goal is to make themselves look good. And yet, I see it all of the time. I watch leaders who are very proud of the title but aren’t willing to do what is necessary to live up to it. They try to take on as many responsibilities as they can. When they fail, the first thing they do is blame one or more of their team members for the failure.
Worse than that, they throw those team members under the bus to their leadership in an attempt to get out of the line of fire. When you lead like this, you paralyze your team because they don’t know what you’re going to do to them next. They operate out of fear instead of respect and loyalty. And the funny thing is: This type of leader thinks that nobody notices that they are throwing people under the bus.
That’s not leadership! Nor is it for the leader above them, who doesn’t take the time to find out what’s really going on because they can’t handle drama. Guess what? In leadership, there’s going to be drama! It comes with the job. In fact, there should be a manual that you’re handed when you become a leader that’s titled, “Scotch and Psychiatrists: A Leader’s Guide to Drama!” (I’m kidding … You don’t need a psychiatrist! OK, you don’t need the Scotch, either. :-))
Leadership is the privilege and the authority to serve. The key word there being serve! It’s not my job as a leader to pass on blame. It’s my job to do everything in my power to make sure that my team is set up for success. And sometimes that means taking a bullet or twelve for them. In the end, if they don’t succeed, it’s my fault anyway. Somewhere along the line, I either didn’t train them well enough or I didn’t make sure they had everything they needed to be successful.
Get in there and be the type of leader who stands side by side with your team. Show them that you are willing to take the bullets with them. “But Chris, I have some real idiots on my team. I don’t want to take their bullets!” Then roll up your sleeves and do everything you possibly can to make sure that it’s not really you who is the problem. If you can say that you’ve done everything you can, and they’re still an idiot, then it’s time to let them be an idiot somewhere else. But, until you can rule you out, you’re the problem!
Question: Have you experienced this type of leader?
Feel free to share this with your friends and family.