Don’t Abdicate Responsibility For Decisions

Have you ever been part of a leadership team trying to achieve a reasonable consensus on a decision and have someone (or several) pass on contributing to the decision?

I’ve observed a phenomenon over many years of professional and personal life where someone who has the chance to contribute to a decision abdicate the throne and let others decide.

In this way, they also avoid responsibility for the outcome. Usually it means they also avoid responsibility for doing the work–one way or another.

There is another side to the dynamic. After the decision is made, these same people delight in continual criticism of the decision. I’ve seen it so often. In families, in committees, in churches, in business.

When I was younger and early in my career, I’d listen to these complainers thinking maybe they had some insight. But it didn’t take me long to discover that this was actually a strategy for avoiding decision-making, contributing to the effort, and responsibility.

It is as if they are trying to stay out of the way in case the decision was wrong. Yet, they’ll try to take some of the praise if things go well.

These people are to be avoided. Well, if you married one, then you’re probably stuck with constant criticism I guess. It’s a personality type. If they are on a committee or department or team you lead, try to marginalize them or even move them on to somewhere else.

Frank and bold discussion about decisions is to be welcomed. Snide comments and grumbling after the fact undermines leadership and the team. It is to be removed.

If you are a self-aware person, then recognize when you start to become one of those grumblers. Stop it and stay  quiet. Resolve to be part of the solution the next time.

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