real leaders don’t pass the buck

Leaders don’t evade responsibility by passing it on to someone else. I am observing an abundance of – avoiding hurting someone’s feeling by not dealing with an issue – going on by people in positions of leadership.

Legend has it that the term “passing the buck” comes from poker. The dealer, in an effort to eliminate accusations of cheating, would pass the deck to the next player and he would cut it. In the old days, a buck knife was often used as the marker. So, when the dealer would pass the deck, he was “passing the buck”.

Leaders must be willing to accept the responsibility for tough decisions, even when those decisions are not popular. If we are not strong enough to make the tough calls, the organizations we lead will suffer. Don’t push the problem on to the next guy. Muster some backbone and deal with it.  Be strong. Lead.

No more passing the buck!

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4 responses to “real leaders don’t pass the buck

  • Megan

    I’m dealing with the long-term fallout of this at work. It’s lead to an environment rife with abscenteeism and apathy where even good workers are left unmotivated and bitter. All of it came about because a leader in question wanted too badly to be liked (at least superficially) by people who were yes-men.

    I genuinely believe problems like this happen because when people hear about leadership issues they immediately think of politicians or the military. I think we all underestimate how much leadership faults (like buck passing) occur in day to day life.

    Not sure how to deal with this one though (at least not from a subordinate position). Anything I’ve tried has led to defensiveness and backlash which seems to be the case across the board.

  • rickwhitter

    Megan, I think that in most situations where this occurs, subordinates spend all their time cleaning up the mess left by leaders who do not do their jobs. There is a saying in the construction business: “leave it for the painters”. It basically means that we can ignore stuff knowing that SOMEONE will have to deal with it – and they probably will. Painters are generally the last ones on the job sites. Whatever has not yet been done must be done by the painters.

  • Megan

    Never heard the “leave it for the painters”…great saying though.

  • Paola Tardiff

    dont mind me jumping in….
    does that mean the subordinates are the painters? I would reference the too many chiefs, not enough indians saying. …. some lead, others lead so well that even the indians feel like chiefs.

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