It's always the others' fault

An exchange of letters with my coach

My answer: "Dear Mr Weber, how can I support you here?"

Mr Weber: "Thank you for your offer, but I don't think you can support me here. Best regards, Yours, R. Weber."

My answer: "Ok. It might help you if you explicitly address the issue of 'land under', e.g. with the help of the 4-quadrant model you are familiar with. Leading upwards is the magic word. Best regards, Dorette Segschneider."

Mr Weber: "I know, and I have also had conversations, and I don't think it's because of understanding. But I'll try again. :) Best regards, your RW."

Dorette Segschneider: "Conversations are one thing - taking responsibility for what happens - in English, this is called 'accountability - is another. How do you manage to be 'accountable'? Here is a small impulse for questions that support you in this:

  • What issue do you go into the conversation with?
  • What solution options can you imagine?
  • Which solution options do you address?
  • What is the minimum goal you want to achieve?
  • How do you create commitment in the conversation?
  • Where is the 'bottle-neck? What do you need from your counterpart for the solution?
  • What is the binding result of the discussion, and to what extent does it contribute to your solution?
  • With what questions/with what concrete preparation do you go into the talks?
  • What exactly does your preparation look like?
  • How do you ensure that the results of the talks are implemented?
  • What is the first small step that would improve the situation for you?
  • Another question: You write: 'don't think it's because of understanding either.' What is the reason then?"

Mr Weber: "Thank you for the impulses. Looking at these, I can and should indeed probably become more concrete and prepare the talks accordingly and take responsibility for the results or follow them up. I have not done that so far."

The pattern solution

I observe this pattern again and again - especially in top management. Accountability - Taking responsibility for one's own actions - is written in many leadership guides. In practice, it is rarely applied. I ask my coachees: "Hey, what of the leadership techniques you know do you live? What exactly have you contributed to so that there is a solution to the problem - in this case, 'land under'?" The exciting thing is that most leaders don't even notice when you don't take responsibility for difficult situations.

On the contrary, like my coachee Mr Weber, they are deeply convinced that they do the right thing. His answer: 'I know... I have also had conversations...' clearly shows that Mr Weber does not know what to change. In his world, he already implements everything - it just 'unfortunately' doesn't work. That is everyday life.

Three steps to responsibility

In the following coaching, we analysed together wherein the 'development pipeline' his 'bottle-neck is. The answer was quickly found: In the missing 'Insight'. Mr Weber simply did not know what he could change or was not even aware that he could do something better. In his world, HE already does everything 'right'. He was not aware of his 'mistake'. So the first step was to train self-awareness - to observe his behaviour. For this purpose, he developed a 'mental model' in the coaching, enabling him to generate 'insight' in crisis situations.

Here is the result - his personal 3-step model:

  1. Where exactly is the problem? = Observing & analysing my actions/procedures
  2. What would be the first step towards a solution? Formulate a minimum goal/first step
  3. How do I implement it in a binding way? A clear strategy for implementation and follow-up of planned actions

It was great to see how fascinated Mr Weber was when he uncovered his ingrained patterns and started to take responsibility for the situation. Small and sustainable solution steps were the gamechanger.

[Translate to English:] shutterstock.com | AJR_photo