You shall not bear false witness against your ...
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Feb 27, 2012

‘Don’t accuse anyone falsely’

‘Confess your faults to each other, so you may be healed.’


What is the most maddening thing that you remember as a child relating to adults?  For myself, it was, and still is, ‘Do as I say and NOT as I do’.  Now, with this answer in mind, what is the most maddening thing that comes to mind when working with ADULTS relating to adults? Again, for myself, it was and still is, ‘Do as I say and NOT as I do’.

Finally, with both of these answers in mind, I ask: ‘What is the most maddening thing that immediately comes to mind when thinking of managers, leaders, or those in authority above you?’. This time, I would have to answer: ‘Managers and leaders that blame their organizations, supervisors, peers, or employees below them for their own missteps, bad judgement, decisions, and poor results.’.

As children, the first stirrings of critical thinking are often realizing that our parents are doing the very same things for which they are punishing us. We as children, at first, may innocently point this out to our parents. We very quickly learned this was not a good thing to do.  I was either passive-aggressive or a slow learner, or more likely, I allowed a progression to emerge.  I learned at an extremely early age to pick my battles.

These early lessons effect ALL of us deeply, in permanent ways that we carry into adolescence, adulthood, and old age. Men in positions of leadership and authority within their families and companies carry the resentments of current and past petty injustices suffered daily.

Also notice, that many, in both leadership and subordinate positions continue to pick and choose their battles, life quickly becomes even more unnecessarily complicated.  Leaders & subordinates exhibit the same progression that their parents made by applying the managerial non-stick teflon of telling EVERYONE (those in authority above us, family, peers and subordinates) to do as we say and not as we do.

Unfortunately, leaders & subordinates both then massively compound the error by deliberately and passively allowing situations to escalate in order to shift blame onto anyone with whom they’d like to settle scores with.  Worse still, leaders and subordinates throw gasoline onto the fire by actively retaliating against supervisors, peers and subordinates whom have come to them with their inconsistencies, mistakes, conflicting directives.

The final, secret, guilty pleasure comes when, after refusing to acknowledge their own lack of leadership, lack of ownership, and lack of responsibility and after manipulating the facts, partial disclosure, leaders and subordinates take their revenge in self-righteously ‘washing their hands’ of whatever happens to the unfortunate soul who, in their estimation, had the distinct poor judgement of pointing out said injustice to whomever the leader may have screwed up.

The unfortunate soul as messenger, is designated as a discipline problem, poor attitude, poor fit, problem employee, or someone else’s problem as the complicit leader either lays them off, eliminates their position, demotes them, writes them up, writes them off, throws them out, or fires them, no matter if they are a good employee, mother, father, sister, friend, daughter, brother, son, leader or not.

In not acknowledging primary responsibility as a leader for resolving or not resolving a situation, then hanging it around someone else’s neck metaphorically, professionally, or relationally, that leader has applied copious and generous amounts of managerial teflon to ‘Bear false witness’ against whomever spoke out or up.  The leader progressed into worse error by allowing or making it appear that whomever spoke up was the root cause of the problem/situation when in fact, it was their OWN responsibility in the first place.

If you want respect, whether you are a subordinate, leader, or both: own your mistakes and screw-ups. They will find you out, whether at work, home, or anywhere.  Those subordinate to you and over you, will respect you for having the integrity and courage to do so, whether they tell you or not.  You will have earned not only their respect, but their forgiveness as well, strengthening your relationships, whether professional or otherwise.

However, if you apply the managerial Teflon non-stick coating, never taking ownership or responsibility of mistakes as well as accomplishments, allowing others to take the blame for you, even your honestly earned victories, promotions, raises, bonuses and respect will all become hollow and bitter.  Everyone around you will ALREADY know.

So, the next time someone speaks up, or out, listen.  Take ownership, take responsibility, apologize, ask forgiveness, document it, build a bridge, and move on.  You will have not only earned respect, but will have gained forgiveness and a solid victory, even in defeat.  All of which is infinitely more substantial than hollow, bitter, shallow, meaningless accolades.

Pray not hollowly for others, but meditate, think, mindfully focus, acknowledge, forgive, and remove your own faults and never falsely accuse anyone, for any reason, let alone so they may pay the price for your own mistakes. You will then become a leader others will gladly follow.

If you are a subordinate, professionally and concisely relay the facts to your immediate supervisor with documentation and allow them to do their job. If they don’t, then work your way up the chain of command in a professional, respectful manner.  Same goes for personal and other relationships, ALL of them.

If you’re on the receiving end of such a leader, document, approach in a respectful, professional manner. If the leader refuses to work with you, work your way up the ladder in a respectful, professional manner.  If, in working your your way up, and the organization itself, refuses also, then find another, more responsible organization to be a part of.  If it’s family after doing all of this, leave it and them alone. Be professional to them anyway, work or family.  The Universe has a way of evening things out: karma, whatever you call it.  If you’re wrong, SAY SO.  Don’t make anyone else drag it out of you kicking and screaming. Build a bridge, and face the consequences, good or bad.  We all reap what we so.  Everyone does – sooner or later.  Don’t spray Teflon. Don’t be that person.


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Just a guy directly challenged to write and share my experiences. This is not easy.

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