Let’s chat about the phenomenon called ‘throwing someone under the bus’.
This is not a pleasant topic, and I’m sure none of you, dear readers, has ever done this.
However, it happens all the time, so SOMEONE must be doing it!
What is it? It is when things are not going well, and the leader pins the blame on someone else and makes them look bad, thereby deflecting the responsibility of failure away from him or herself.
Here are a couple of examples:
First of all, there may be legitimate reasons for firing the Sales Manager or shedding light on a chronic weakness in the team member of not providing information. However, doing it in public and often without warning, is not ever legitimate.
Both of these cowardly actions provides a quick way for them to show that they have NO RESPONSIBILITY in what didn’t work. These other people are to blame. Whew…that was close! Right?
It is the person in the leadership position who needs to make sure the team is coming together in the correct way to get the right work done to succeed. When success is not happening, the person in the leadership position needs to do some soul searching and strategizing to figure out how to better lead the team to success. And, to have frank conversations with the team about what each person (including the leader!!) needs to do to get closer to the desired results.
When the leader punishes someone—through any number of methods—rather than accept his or her own role in the problem, that is what ‘throwing under the bus’ looks like.
And, it can literally feel like getting hit by a bus. When these attacks come out of nowhere they can literally take the victim’s breath away!
This sneaky technique has several very negative consequences:
Rather than getting caught in this terrible behavior, do the following:
This is one of the important lessons of leadership. You are up to handling failure in an up-front, brave way. That makes you look so much better than deflecting blame onto someone who can’t speak up!