"There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one's self." ~ Benjamin Franklin.
All of us, at some point, will have an opportunity to lead, manage, supervise or influence. Whether it be on a team, as a coach, executive or even as a friend. We will all be presented with chances to make a difference in another persons life. That is when "The Greatest Challenge" will rear it's ugly head. That's when we have to make a decision as to how to respond. What is the greatest challenge?
Psychiatrists call it "The Self Serving Bias".
The self-serving bias is the tendency we have as individuals to take credit for our successes and blame external factors for our failures.
The self-serving bias is an attempt to protect or enhance an individual’s self-concept and in simple terms it can be explained as "not being able to get out of our own way". Sadly it appears that none of us are immune to this. Some fight harder to overcome this natural tendency that hinders growth and learning and some are completely oblivious or deny vehemently that they fall prey to it. Either way the challenge is clear to anyone who wishes to influence activities, behavior and results in business or any situation. ~ So what can we do?
There was a famous basketball coach who once said " If the coach wants to teach more than the player wants to learn nothing he does or says will matter". Indeed a unique and frustrating component of the self serving bias is the fact that when people feel that their self-concept is being threatened they will exhibit the self serving bias much more strongly. However, as in any development efforts - Until we individually accept the "self serving bias" or the fact that "we need to get out of our own way" very little can be done. This is the baseline - It's where we need to start. Address this first - get those we work with to accept, and embrace, accountability and the rest is relatively smooth sailing.
Until someone accepts the validity of a self serving bias and the fact that we each get in our own way more than anything - We end up trying to assist someone who is working against themself. As Pogo so eloquently put it. ~ "We have met the enemy and he is us."
Read the Wikipedia entry here on Self Serving Bias