Your team deployed the company's flagship project just 2 hours before the investor meeting. Now the demo's started - no more last-minute changes are possible. The only thing piercing the silence is the steady drip-drip of a leaky faucet on the floor above. Everyone is trying their best to eavesdrop in on the conversation going on in the conference room, where the CEO is demonstrating the project to the group of investors.
"Oops - that wasn't supposed to happen."
Your heart sinks. The demo just went horribly wrong. As the team lead, you know that this whole thing was ultimately your responsibility.
Now in this moment, you can do one of two things:
- You can blame it on Jerry. Yes, it must be Jerry's fault! In fact, we have clear evidence that Jerry wrote the code that ended up breaking. Yes, it must be Jerry's fault! (Note: poor Jerry is a metaphor for literally anyone else on your team.)
- You can take the blame and handle it gracefully. Either way, the company has lost a huge opportunity, and as the team lead you are responsible for the project. Best not to let the resentment and guilt seep any further down.
You decide to go with option 2.
"Yes, it was me. I should've had the foresight to include additional testing as part of our last sprint, and I failed to do that. I'm sorry."
Your team sits in silence as the CEO continues to rant for what seemed like an eternity.
In the next sprint the following Monday, just as you were about to speak, Jerry interjects:
"I just wanted to say thanks for taking the blame on behalf of the team. I know that it was my code that broke, and I apologise. I've already added that issue as a bug onto our issues board."
Others in the team chime in too:
"Yeah, what you did was really brave and totally undeserved."
"Thanks for sticking up for us."
Imagine a window and a mirror on the wall in front of you.
When something goes wrong, a bad leader would look out the window and blame the people out there - their own team, staff from other teams, third parties - anyone but themselves. However, a good leader would look into the mirror and try to identify their own problems, and how they improve.
When something goes right, a bad leader would look into the mirror and praise themselves - their leadership skills, their technical prowess, their networking ability. On the other hand, a good leader would look out the window, and share the praise amongst the team.
"Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work."
– Vince Lombardi
Thanks for reading! What do you guys think?