I swear I should have been born in Canada based on how naturally apologetic I am. I am a peacemaker at heart which can result in my selflessness becoming a doormat if I am not conscientious about it. Now sometimes simply apologizing for a way you handled something rather than taking on blame is acceptable. It still puts you in a position to discuss the situation. However, this is a far cry from taking blame and there by ending discussion. It is an easy trap for more empathetic and compassionate leaders to fall prey to.
So, how do: you avoid this? Ask yourself these simple questions:
1. Is it a failure of responsibility or a undesirable outcome?
It is okay to evaluate and accept responsibility in instances of failure. This is how we grow. Be careful about taking on blame for situations that result in a undesirable outcome despite the fact you met your responsibilities. This can result in setting up unrealistic expectations on yourself to be able to control the uncontrollable and thereby set yourself up for failure time and again.
2. Are you covering for someone so they don’t fail?
While we are naturally want to help others, it is important we let those we are leading fail so they can also grow and learn. When we cover for them and don’t allow them to gain their own “scrapes and bruises”, they will not have the fortitude or toughness to last on their own as established leaders.
3. Are you avoiding conflict and hard conversations?
If you naturally avoid conflict, it can be tempting to accept blame to avoid having to have hard conversations that may result in hurt and angry feelings. It’s uncomfortable and we naturally want to avoid it. But as a leader, it is important that responsibilities are met and consequences are given when they aren’t. Feedback is how we grow and we owe it to those we lead to have those conversations with them.
Whether it is a failure to a client or a failure to your team, take responsibility for your impact but not more. While it can be uncomfortable to see it, if you or your team is not uncomfortable, no one is growing.