Piling on the Lay Blame Drama

My life-long friend Stuart Cordell brought this piece to my attention when it was published about a month ago:  Why Learn and Grow on the Job? It’s Much Easier to Feign Infallibility

Jared Sandberg wrote it for his Wall Street Journal column Cubicle Culture. The essence of the article is that laying blame is a successful strategy for keeping one’s job and advancing.

Is this useful news?

While it is dramatic, it isn’t all that enlightening. We’ve discovered in our Responsibility Redefined research that not only is Lay Blame a successful strategy for accounting for failure and slipping the consequences, but so is Justifying, Shame (self-pity, i.e., I’m sure I deserve to be shot for trying something that didn’t work) Obligation (I did exactly what you told me to), Quit (I’ve tried everything) and Denial (I didn’t know).

Jared Sandberg also refers to the power of apologizing for one’s mistakes, which I agree with, and the fact that Blamers refuse to apologize since they don’t own their flub. Yes, that’s true too.

Sandberg also refers to the research of Carol Dweck, psychology professor at Stanford University and author of “Mindset: The Psychology of Success.” Prof. Dweck says that blamers have a”fixed” mindset causing them to wallow in their successes and externalize cause for any problems. The alternative to a “fixed” mindset is the “growth” mindset where people are willing to learn from their mistakes.

I haven’t read Prof. Dweck’s book, but look forward to doing so, since it seems to reflect some of my own observations of Responsibility Redefined. I’m glad she uses the term “mindset.” I would say that such people are probably conditioned to Lay Blame, or perhaps Justify.

The important thing is whether they actually perform highly or whether they rely on conceit and cronyism for advancement — a type of winning that will be outdistanced by people, teams, and organizations with a healthy Responsibility Practice.

What do you think?

Posted in Responsibility on 02/28/2008 02:42 pm
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