We all make excuses. Whether they cover up for why we were late (“There was no parking”), provide a reason as to why we didn’t do that errand that our spouse requested (“It didn’t get into my to-do list”), seek to justify why we broke our diet (“There we SO many sweets on the table”), or attempt to explain why we didn’t get the business deal (“My competition swept in and undercut me”), we use excuses throughout our day to justify our errors and explain away our failings.
The reason that we do this, according to psychologists, is to protect ourselves against anxiety and shame. It is simply easier to blame external factors than ourselves for our lack of achievement or for letting ourselves or others down. The problem is that the more that we make excuses, the likelier we are to build barriers that will impede our chances of attaining meaningful goals in the future.
While excuse making is common problem for everyone, it can be particularly problematic for leaders. Leaders are responsible for their own work as well as those that they lead. When leaders excuse away failures, they lower the standard at which they operate, which will inevitably reduce their productivity and impact. Worse, such behavior helps to create a culture of excuse-making that quickly trickles down the pipeline. In no time, people throughout the organization feel vindicated in justifying their miscues or lack of production. And if the boss makes his/her own excuses all the time, who is going to call them on it?Read More