Byron's Babbles

Leaders Framing Themselves As Victims


Graphic of GoodLeader/Bad Leader Discusion Drawn by Mike Fleisch

This week’s entry (#12) in John Manning’s (2105) The Disciplined Leader was entitled “Eliminate the Victim Mentality.” Our Focused Leader Academy participants had a huge discussion about this back in November during a Good Leader/Bad Leader discussion. The context of our discussion was how leaders blame their decisions, or lack there of on others or circumstances allegedly out of their control. Instead of being a victim, I call this “excuse-making.” This excuse-making, or blaming and justification are all contained within the excuse-making thought process. In our society today, some leaders have become adept at using all of these strategies to rationalize their actions. Here is where the danger lies in leaders taking a victim approach. The core of victim thinking is the belief that if you’re a victim of something, then the results of your decisions and actions don’t apply to you. Consequently, if you’re not responsible, then you don’t have to change anything: it’s somebody else’s fault. Remember, great leaders take responsibility for things that don’t work and give the credit to others for what goes right.

“Because the workplace culture often has a way of taking on the personality of its strongest leader, be aware that through consistent strength and optimistic, powerful messaging, you won’t just better yourself but will effectively impact others for the better, too. When people around you feel your optimism, they will also be encouraged to ward off thinking or behaving as victims.” ~ John M. Manning

If you want to be a well-respected leader, you can’t afford to act or think like a victim. Leaders are those who see a complex problem and figure out a way either individually or collectively to solve it. Let’s face it, you don’t have to be or feel like a victim. We all have the ability to become the leader we want to be in any area we choose. It is is important to remember we all have the responsibility to lead from where we are; no matter what our position. You are the very person who dictates whether to assume a leader or a victim’s role. The one person with the most influence over you is YOU!

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

Today, everyone can be a leader. The position of leader is not just for those leading top corporations as CEOs. Today’s leaders are everywhere, including teacher leaders choosing to bring out the best in our children, artists creating social change in our cities, youth bringing about social change, and YOU! Great leaders own and are in control of their own leadership actions. They embrace change and welcome the challenges of their context to learn and own their own personal and professional growth. As leaders, we must embrace our circumstances and understand that today we are stronger and wiser because of the context we find ourselves leading in. As aspiring leaders we must take control of our thoughts and create the inspiring stories of creating the change we want to see in the world.

Are you a leader or a victim?


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


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  1. […] One thing I have found is there will always be some who will believe I am showing favorites. Partly because some that are not performing at top shelf level are going to make themselves the victim and believe/perceive it is because they are not the chosen one. Now, let me be clear, I believe I need to recognize those individuals and help coach them. However, I have found these individuals to be the toughest to coach.  These are individuals who tend to make themselves out as victims. Interestingly, when working with our Focused Leader Academy teachers they picked leaders being victims as one of the worst bad leadership traits. I blogged about this in Leaders Framing Themselves as Victims. […]


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