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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Your people

Have you ever heard the phrase "falling on your sword?" In today's business, it typically means taking a strong position regarding an idea or value. It can also mean taking responsibility or blame for the actions of a person or group of people.

Earlier in my career I was tempted, at times, to fall on my sword for a cause or position on a certain idea. You know what? In business, there's no idea worth taking a sword for. As long as what you're told to do isn't illegal or immoral, you're bound to follow the directives you're given. Let's face it, it's only a job.

As far as I'm concerned, there's only one reason to ever fall on your sword: for your people. When you're a boss, part of your job is to keep the garbage off your people so they can focus on their duties and keep the organization operating. Sometimes your people mess up. Maybe it's because they were being stupid or maybe it was an honest mistake. The thing is, you know how people like to have someone to blame.

You have two choices:
  • Step out of the way, point toward the offender or offenders on your team and say "there they are."
  • Step between the attacker and your people. Take the charge straight on.
It's practically a solemn bond. If your team is being picked on or unfairly treated, it's your duty to protect fall on your sword, if necessary. Perhaps your team member needs to be disciplined. That's OK. You'll take care of that yourself...inside the privacy of your team.

So, what do you think? When, if ever, is an appropriate setting to fall on your sword?

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