How leaders handle setbacks

How a leader handles setbacks has an enormous impact on the people and culture of an organization.  It is, of course, upsetting when expected performance is missed.  A common approach is to find fault or blame, to launch an investigation committee or witchhunt.  When that happens, everyone goes into survival mode:  hiding, covering up, misrepresenting, and lying.  No one learns anything except to not take risks and to cover-one’s-butt.  The opposite approach is to get the team together to understand what caused the setback, make corrections and improve the organization’s capability to perform going forward.  The focus is on problem-solving and improvement, not on blame or fault-finding.
Making the move from the first approach to the second is not easy because it involves mindset and behavior change for the leader, and a change in culture.  No matter what the leader may say about this new approach, no one is going to trust that the new approach is for real until they see it demonstrated consistently and repeatedly.
Bob Legge works with companies to improve individual and organizational performance. His clients have included Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, non-profits, education and government. To find out more, contact Bob at or call him at (585) 305-7853. Bob’s website is

Close Menu