Are You Eroding Your Leadership Effectiveness?

If you are like most high-caliber leaders, you are typically looking for your team members to:

  • Be problem solvers as opposed to problem pointer-outers.
  • Take calculated or measured risks when appropriate.
  • Be future focused and not dwell too much in the past (or their last job.)
  • Take initiative.
  • Learn from mistakes.
  • Not place blame or point fingers.stop - no more
  • Be accountable.

If you are a member of a team you are likely looking for these same behaviors in your colleagues or peers.

And yet, you may be sabotaging your efforts to foster these traits in your your team if you are not modeling what you expect. There is a chance you are eroding your leadership effectiveness (or your leadership potential) if you regularly use the word fault. As in:

  • Whose fault is this?
  • We need to discover who or what is at fault.
  • It’s not my fault.

While your intentions may not be to blame and shame or to sound less than accountable yourself, using the word fault can send the unintentional message that you are looking to assign blame. That makes it more difficult for team members to feel comfortable and confident in taking initiative or being proactive.  It also indicates that you are focused on the past instead of moving forward. We can also sound like we are trying to pass the buck or be less than accountable ourselves.

So, what can a high-caliber leader say or use instead?

Here are some options:

  • Let’s figure out what happened and how we can fix it.
  • Let’s try to determine what we can do differently next time.
  • What do you think went wrong and how can we avoid it in the future?
  • Here’s what I learned and here is what I will do differently next time (instead of “it’s not my fault”).

Even if you don’t typically use the word fault in your communication, the above alternatives are powerful communication tools you can add to your leadership tool-kit. Notice, they are all future focused and they all allow for growth and learning.  Make it easier for others to be accountable and proactive.  Stop sabotaging or eroding your leadership success by minimizing your use of the word fault.


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