“He made me do it. He told me to do it.” I can’t tell you how many times I have heard these words in the classroom. Children do not want to be in trouble, so they place the blame on others for their own actions. “They made me do it.”
If we hope to raise good citizens, we teach our children to take responsibility for their actions. We help them to discern right from wrong. We help children to understand the consequences of their words and actions. We help children to accept their mistakes, acknowledge their mistakes, and turn them into learning opportunities. Good teachers help children to be honest about situations, to view problems truthfully, to admit failures, and to correct mistakes.
The culture and climate of a school caused many good teachers to leave. The administrators said “Those teachers just didn’t want change. They were not team players. They were creating conflict. It’s not my fault.” They failed to see how their own actions may have created this type of environment.
Strong leaders reflect on their own actions. They refrain from blaming others such as good teachers. They ask themselves, “What am I doing, what have I put in place – that may be a factor in this environment?” The more they put blame on the teachers or others in the organization – the more their leadership will suffer. People will respect leaders who say, “I take the blame here. I wasn’t listening when I should have been. I did not consider your voice. I did not value your work. I’m going to work on this. I desire a culture and climate that makes everyone work and learn at their full potential. I am ready to listen, and ready to put students first. I am ready to support you in creating an environment that encourages you in your work with kids. We are going to make our school the best it can be.” What the administrator does is takes responsibility for what is happening. The administrator then begins to rebuild trust by honestly and sincerely sharing how he/she is responsible and how he/she will begin to make things “right”. Notice the leaders do not say – “It is YOU that caused this problem!” The leader shoulders the blame, but does not stop there. The leader then works to change things for the better.
Jesus looked around and saw a world of sin. He began to teach the good news, and began a mission of love and hope. Jesus took on the sin of man. He took the blame. Though Jesus was sinless, He took responsibility for sin. Jesus died on the cross, giving mankind victory.
Jesus wasn’t a wimp. He pointed out failures in leadership and in man. He preached the good news knowing what was going to happen. Jesus took responsibility for sin in the world. He made a way for man to receive the grace of God.
At the ASCD Empower 19 conference, Doris Kearns Goodwin discussed how strong leaders have the readiness to take full responsibility for problems and failures. These leaders shoulder blame. They take on their mistakes and work to fix what has gone wrong.
“The price of greatness is responsibility.” Winston Churchill
“Rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility.” Peter Drucker
“A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.” Bob Dylan
“Take stands, Take risks, Take responsibility.” Muriel Siebert
Strong leaders are not afraid to take responsibility and shoulder blame.