But the other guy…

January 20, 2012 — 2 Comments

Funny thing happened last weekend. I got a speeding ticket. I was 19 when I got my last speeding ticket.

I was trailing a ‘rabbit’ who was 1/2 mile ahead and going a bit faster than me. The CHP came around the corner and nailed ME on radar. The angle worked out just right for my rabbit, but not so well for me! When the officer approached the car, my first reply was, “But the other guy…” at which I was cutoff with, “gotcha on radar-72 in a 55”.

Sheri got a great laugh out of it, “you sounded like a little baby!”

After we calmed down from laughing at my baby-ness, I got to thinking about my response. I noticed I did not deny speeding, but I tried to deflect my error on someone else – Rather than admitting it, learning my lesson, and moving forward.

I lead a small company. As I have taken over the operations, I have made some tough choices and have held some people accountable. I noticed one of two common reactions:
1. Leaders accept the feedback, learn from it, and move forward.
2. Problem employees almost always react with a “But the other guy…” reaction. They try to justify why they are not wrong by comparing themselves to some weaker, less skilled, etc. fellow worker rather than admit they need to change, they rationalize, justify, deny there’s a problem and it’s the leader who provided the feedback is the problem. These people take too much time and energy.

When someone gives you feedback, criticism, or busts you for speeding, do you respond as a leader or a problem?


2 responses to But the other guy…


    Accountability is very, very important. We have to use mistakes as teachable moments at every opportunity. Teachability can be on a serious level with consequences, or it can be a mentor/coach scenario where we develop the person. But, if we, as leaders, do our jobs right, our people will take the blame (or, better said, taking responsiblity and accountability) more easily, and with less anguish and angst, if we create the environment where people can fail without feeling that they are failures.

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