When you find yourself blaming others for your woes, it’s time to ask yourself a few questions.
Because of who you are and how you’ve lived in the world, you carry beliefs with you that may no longer serve you in your leadership role (or your life). It’s good to be aware of what those beliefs are and realize when they need to be held tightly or set free.
Your beliefs shape the kind of person and leader you are and the behaviors you exhibit. And how you show up (i.e., your behavior) either furthers your ability to develop relationships that make it possible to influence others or it makes it more difficult. When you can’t easily influence others, your work as a leader can be difficult.
The beliefs that you cling to that no longer serve can be the engine of a never-ending cycle of blaming others for your own inability to influence others and move your organization forward. If you feel that others are the cause of your woes, ponder the following questions:
What are my beliefs about the people I lead? Honestly examine the beliefs you have about the people you lead, being careful that you don’t fall into the trap of deceiving yourself. Deception will only keep you where you are. Do you believe your followers are whole, smart, and full of possibility, or incapable or unable to do the work of your organization? Your answer will inform the next question.
How are my beliefs shaping my ability to lead? If you’re struggling in your ability to lead while blaming problems on others, then you aren’t really leading. If you believe your employees are incapable or otherwise unable to do the work that needs to be done, you might continue to see them as the source of all your troubles. You must be willing to look at yourself.
What new beliefs do I need to be open to? In other words, how might you turn your beliefs around? If you consider the opposite of the belief that “My employees aren’t capable, therefore they are negatively impacting my ability to further the mission of our organization”, the opposite belief might be “My employees have potential, and when I can coach them to tap into that, it will positively impact my leadership in furthering the mission of our organization.” The difference here is that you are stepping into leadership by taking responsibility for action.
What new behaviors might be possible now? You can now show your gifts to the world, and it is beginning to open. If you believe that your employees have potential, what does that mean for new ways for you to show up and interact with them? How might your new behaviors influence and impact others and your mission in a positive way?
You might realize through this process that what you’ve heard is true: you cannot change others, you can only change yourself (beginning with changing your beliefs about others).
Mary Jo Asmus is an executive coach and a former corporate executive who has spent the past 16 years as president of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC.