Byron's Babbles

Who’s In My Way? ME!

Lesson #9 was another great one in The Disciplined Leader by John M. Manning. If you have not gotten this book yet, you need to. If you get it you can follow allong with with the weekly posts about Manning’s (2015) lessons by our Hoosier Academies’ Focused Leader Academy participants.  On Twitter we use the hashtag: #HoosierFLA. Amazingly, this week’s lesson went write along with a discussion topic from our last session. We called it “Leaders Framing Themselves as Victims.” Manning (2015) positions it as leaders needing  to “Get Out of Your Way.” 

“You are the master of your attitudes and the driver behind your habits.” ~ John M. Manning 

This leadership topic really underscores the need for a new kind of leader in this century: the authentic leader. Our future leaders were very critical of leaders who always make everything be the fault of someone else or the reason she is ineffective. I believe this is another form of getting in your own way. It’s easy to fall in the trap of making ourselves out to be the victim. However, those we serve see right through it. Nevertheless, the victim stance is a powerful one. Some leaders fall into this trap because of how we are wired to view victims. The victim is always morally right, neither responsible nor accountable, and forever entitled to sympathy. Read that last sentence again. Do you want those you serve to believe that’s how you believe about yourself? I hope not!

One thing that really speaks to me, as a leader, is the idea of taking 100% responsibility for my own life. It is too easy to quickly assign blame and pull out all the excuses as to why something did or did not happen. Again, those we serve pick up on this immediately. Here’s what I’ve learned – We relinquish all power when we go there. Not owning up to our actions—this takes away our part in doing anything different. We simply remain stuck while we continue to complain and feel miserable in our status quo of negativity. But we first must take charge of ourselves and decide we are capable of doing, being, and acting differently. Assigning blame and making excuses keeps us victimized. We don’t have to do anything different because it’s not about us; it’s about someone or something else. We’re simply the recipient. We have to decide it’s up to us and not pass along our power to the blame and excuse game. 

I also believe that becoming authentic is another key to getting out of your own way. Authentic leaders frame their stories in ways that allow them to see themselves not as passive observers but as individuals who learn from their own experiences and the reality she is in. Leaders who are authentic also work hard at developing self-awareness through persistent and often courageous self-exploration. Great leaders, as Manning (2015) points out, take responsibility in the area of personal growth. This is one of the most important leadership lessons – professional & personal growth must be just that, personal. We must own it ourselves. To get out of our own way, we must take responsibity for ourselves. It’s the first step to being authentic and disciplined. I have blogged about this before when I was teaching in a post titled, “Autonomy – Professional Growth Must Be Personal. Click here to read it. 

“If you don’t know what your barriers are, it’s impossible to figure out how to tear them down. So carve out the time to reflect on what’s blocking your potential. If you struggle figuring it out, get feedback from others you trust.” ~ John M. Manning

Manning discussed the need to get rid of the barriers that prevent us from getting out of our own way. I would pose this question to you in closing, as a way for you to begin to take responsibility for your own leadership journey: What are your top internal barriers to making changes? In other words, the behaviors that get in your way, such as losing focus, victimizing yourself, rationalizing, overreacting to criticism, and others.


Manning, J. (2015). The disciplined leader: 52 concise, powerful lessons. Oakland, CA: Barrett – Koehler Publishers, Inc.


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