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Leadership Series: The Blame Game

One of the most toxic things for a company is when managers engage in the blame game. It can be a tricky problem to address, because the concept of blame starts in everyone early on.

People blame others from childhood. If a kid gets reprimanded by a parent, they learn to blame other people for fear of repercussions. Eventually learning ownership for failures is part of evolving into management and leadership.

Ownership is a responsibility. It’s what gets you into a leadership role. You can’t be a strong manager or leader without the ability to have full ownership. Nobody will follow you if you can’t take ownership of issues.

One of the risks managers run into when learning how to be a leader is micromanaging.

Micromanaging is a fear factor thing. It can mean two things, either you’re a control freak, or you’re telling someone how to do something via training. One is better than the other.

Control freaks take away creativity. But if you’re guiding someone on completing a task, it’s better to give them the criteria and then let the worker come up with their own creative ideas for finishing the job.

Sometimes when managers come into a new position, they might be tempted to micromanage because of fear. If a task isn’t done correctly, they might face reprimand. And that gets back to the original fear of punishment that develops during childhood.

If a manager isn’t trusting subordinates, they’re not growing.

When it comes to blame itself, those at the bottom of the food chain often catch most of it. On a daily basis, right, wrong, or otherwise, those at the bottom are likely to be blamed when something goes wrong with a job or project.

And blame plays a specific role in the industry of facilities management.

When you have multiple leaders making a process happen, there’s always going to be failure. And that’s when blame will show up. But if you have just one person leading, there’s typically a much higher success rate.

If too many people get involved in the coaching process, non-decision making, then there’s failure on the way, and blame is right behind that.

Whether a manager will take ownership of a problem or play the blame game often depends on who they’ve worked for in the past. If they’ve worked for leadership that constantly went for the throat every time there was a problem, nobody is going to want to take responsibility.

If leadership will use failure as teaching moments instead of going straight for repercussions, that will always produce better managers within the company.

Having a support process through failure can help managers take advantage of the opportunity to learn not to make the same mistakes in the future.

A continual blame game affects companies in the worst way.

It’s toxic. It’s gossiping. Leaders have to hunt out the blame game and have hard conversations to separate people engaging in it.

All businesses have this problem. It’s just a matter of how fast they can snuff it out.

As for getting rid of the blame game, employees have to be coachable. If they’re coachable, you lean in and support them instantly. Be very direct.

Never ask why a mistake happened because that’s a waste of time. Instead teach employees to be direct. Train them to simply explain what problem occurred and how they’re going to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Ultimately, choices after a problem takes place come down to owning it or blaming someone else. Always own a mistake, and then move on. If a mistake happens multiple times, then it’s time to make a change in the system.

Show Notes:

FM Evolution Podcast

Episode: Jim Robinson

Host: Shawn Black

On this episode Shawn is once again joined by Jim Robinson and they discuss taking full ownership.

[00:00:30] - Intro

[00:00:48] - Subject of the show, The blame game, taking full ownership

[00:01:21] - Fluidlytix sponsor ad

[00:02:25] - Jim Robinson’s background

[00:03:14] - What are you reading?

[00:04:28] - Why do you think people blame others for their challenges?

[00:05:28] - What does the process of ownership look like in a leadership role?

[00:07:25] - What steps do leaders need to take without micro managing processes?

[00:10:59] - How does ownership and blame play a role in facilities management?

[00:12:22] - Why do you think it is so hard for people to take ownership?

[00:15:22] - {Habitual blame game} How do you thing that effect a company’s environment?

[00:19:30] - What advice would you give to someone that works with a leader that doesn’t take ownership?

[00:25:43] - Outro

Quotes from the Episode:

“Something has to feed us on a regular basis to keep us in check so we coach from a standpoint of coach and coachee.” [00:03:38]

“If you don’t have the ability to have full ownership, you don’t set out on that journey, it’s very unlikely you’re going to be rising up as a leader.” [00:06:01]

“When you have multiple people all in a role of decision making and no one has truly made a decision, blame is just around the corner.” [00:12:04]

“Go out there and correct whatever you’re failing at and find the leadership that’s actually going to help support a growth path through whatever those failures are.” [00:14:44]

“Read stuff that is truly in your lane...focus on where your career path is, only. Don’t waste time in another space.” [00:24:57]

Reading recommendations:

Coaching Habit -

Speed of Trust -


CGP Maintenance & Construction -

Fluidlytix -

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