How Do You Lead as a Blamer?
I feel sad when I listen to politicians who want to lead our nation resort to the blame game. The blame game takes two forms: we blame others for what we think, feel, say, or do in the “blame-others” mode. Or, we blame ourselves for what others think, feel, say or do in the “blame-self” mode. With most politicians we do not need to worry about their using the “blame-self” mode because above all else they are at pains to disown any responsibility for the problem at hand.
In politics the blame game works as a way to get votes. As a blamer you make your opponent look bad, or at least look worse than you. By blaming others you get sympathy for the difficult situation facing you. You blame your predecessor for handing you a pile of problems he or she either created or didn’t solve. You blame your opponents for making governing difficult for you by having different political solutions from yours.
In blaming you see yourself as a victim. By claiming you are a victim you have no responsibility. You want voters to feel sympathy for you since you claim no responsibility for the problem. You are blameless. However, being a victim without responsibility you make yourself powerless. Victimhood disempowers the victim.
As a politician running for office you get elected by appearing to have solutions for the nation’s problems. When those solutions fail you excuse yourself by saying the problem was much worse than it appeared. You make other people responsible for not telling you how bad it was. Again, you absolve yourself from responsibility for not understanding the situation even though you chose to run for office because you understood the problems.
In my posted article entitled “How to Change Immediately” I admit that I have been a blamer. I learned the role in a legally sophisticated family. I learned not to take responsibility for being wrong or for making mistakes to avoid punishment. I feared the shame and the feeling of being worth-less that goes with the shame from making a mistake or being wrong. To stay out of trouble I wanted to be perfect, or appear to be. The truth is I wasn’t infallible. In acting unblameable I was shameless. Being shameless was part of taking no responsibility.
There is an inconsistency with being a leader who is superior and blameless at one moment and the blamer who is a victim at another moment. How do you maintain your victimhood and yet be superior? How can conditions and circumstances overcome you and your superior solutions? You can claim your solutions just haven’t hand enough time, but then how much time is enough? There is a wise saying that trying the same solution over again expecting a different result is insanity.
Another inconsistency that goes with being a leader who is a victim is how do you lead? As a victim you get sympathy for your predicament, but how can you be powerless as a victim and yet claim to be a leader? Your excuses make you appear feckless, inadequate for the job.
Victims turn into offenders, as I know I did in “getting even” when I felt hurt. We justify our offending because we feel like a victim—it’s called offending from the victim position. It pays to take offense and claim to be a victim. We are entitled to payback to get even. Becoming the offender we allow ourselves to ride roughshod over people. We ignore the rules as though they are meant for others but not for us. Having felt one-down we now go one-up to attack and shame others. Our offending others is justified.
The simple truth is that a good leader is neither a victim nor an offender. A real leader is not an excuse maker or a blamer. A true leader respects others as he respects himself. The following examples of self-responsible leadership come to my mind. President Harry Truman put a sign on his desk that said, “The Buck Stops Here.” He committed himself to being responsible not blaming. President John F. Kennedy assumed complete responsibility for the failed invasion of Cuba. He said no one else was at fault. President Ronald Reagan took sole responsibility to challenge Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in front of the world at the Berlin Wall to “Tear down this wall!”
These leaders instantly gained the respect of the nation with their courage. Leaders change their nation by taking responsibility and transforming themselves. They are a model for others to follow.
What it takes to transform ourselves from blamers into true leaders is the awareness of blaming others so we can stop the blame game. Instead we take full responsibility for whatever we have said, done, thought, and felt. Our new awareness and our willingness to accept our mistakes and learn from them transform us into leaders instead of blamers.
Proverbs 29:18 says: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” The law is: we reap what we sow. For example, redistribution does not create wealth; it requires wealth. If we are going to redistribute we need to create prosperity.
Leaders who blame others do not have a vision; their overriding goal is to get elected. We need a leader who learns from his mistakes and provides a self-responsible model of leadership. We need a leader who has a vision for inspiring America to productivity through creating jobs and prosperity that lift the rest of the world to a higher standard of living. Our leader must be able to communicate his vision to the people so they want to participate in it. We desperately need a leader who can inspire and unify America.