Project managers must be willing to accept blame

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 By Jack Nevison

As a project manager, you are ultimately responsible for what your team produces, for good or ill. So when major problems occur, don't point the finger at someone else on your team, even if it's warranted.

This might seem unfair, but it is actually the mark of a strong, capable leader.

Consider, for example, a 2010 study conducted by the Center for Talent Innovation. Examining "the intangibles of leadership"—the ways in which leaders influence their teams—the study found that the best leaders are thought to posses "grace under fire" and the ability to own up to a crisis.

Leadership advisor Lauren Leader-Chivée recently told that General Motors CEO Mary Barra is an excellent example of this. Barra has accepted responsibility for a faulty ignition switch that led to a recall of 1.6 million GM cars and may be linked to as many as 26 deaths, even though the problems didn't occur during her watch.

"By taking responsibility, demonstrating her values, and speaking honestly and forthrightly, Barra has shown stronger, not weaker leadership," Leader-Chivée said. "Had she not done this, or simply blamed others … she would have inevitably faced withering and justified criticism."

It is difficult to take the blame for such a massive problem, but there are long-term benefits. The public—and, most importantly, your team members—are more likely to respect this decision, and you for coming to it, making it easier for you to orchestrate a recovery.

At New Leaf Project Management, we offer over 200 hours of training to help you handle any problem, no matter how large. In addition, our white papers and QPM games provide an affordable opportunity to learn while you earn PDU credits for PMP recertification.

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