George Ambler just published an article on The Practice of Leadership called How to know when you’re not leading? In it he mentions that people fail when they act from the stance of a victim.  I couldn’t agree more and so wanted to elaborate my response a bit relating specifically to this victim perspective.

The Victim Cycle

The attitude that Goerge mentioned is an area that holds back leadership but not only that, it reinforces itself and puts us into a downward spiral or victim cycle.  This cycle includes several stages and behaviors that can easily be detected if you know what to look for.

  1. Denial and ignoring the problem
  2. Blame and finger pointing
  3. Excuses and defensive attitude
  4. Do nothing while expecting change

All of these are signs that someone is acting like a victim in a situation.  These are much more after the fact circumstances than the ones that George mentioned but I think they are also a lot easier to recognize, especially with others.  The two that are dominant in today’s business world are #2 and #3.


There are millions of excuses being made everyday for poor results, lack of action, mistakes, failures, ignored problems and all other challenges we face in our world.  Some of the classic excuses that many people use (and hear) everyday are:

  • How was I supposed to know
  • Nobody told me that’s what you wanted
  • It’s not my fault
  • That’s not my job
  • I thought I told you
  • I’m too busy
  • That’s how we’ve always done it

These are just some of the samples you can watch for and hear everyday.  ALL of these are examples of someone active as a victim and being caught in the victim cycle.  They don’t take responsibility for things around them.

Run Your Own Life

Train yourself to avoid these types of excuses and catch yourself anytime you find yourself complaining so that you can look to make a change with that instead of standing by, watching things happen or falling into the victim trap.  I’ve mentioned it before in my articles on choosing your responses and actions, its not just about leadership, its about all your life choices.

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