Consultant and author Patrick Lencioni admits to often being humbled when he deals with his four sons' misbehaviour. "Where did you learn to act like that?" he might ask, only to realize that the culprit likely learned it from him. Of course, he notes in the Pat's POV newsletter, he doesn't deliberately teach his sons to misbehave. But he realizes he has probably done something to lead them to believe the behaviour was acceptable or, more likely, the consequences not significant.
The same thing happens at work. When we're venting about some dismal behaviour by subordinates – perhaps they are terrible at giving constructive feedback to others – the fault may lie at our own feet. Perhaps we're terrible at giving feedback, not providing a proper model, or aren't diligent about insisting out staff provide feedback to their subordinates.
"In most organizations, the biggest problems arise not because leaders are actively promoting the wrong behaviour, but rather because they're passively doing so by allowing people to get away with this behaviour without impunity. The most common reason that leaders commit sins of omission is simply because they just don't feel comfortable confronting people about what they are or are not doing," he writes. "So, when they see that the problem has spread throughout their organization, they really have no one to blame but themselves."
That's the time to eat some humble pie, and set about changing employees' behaviour by changing your own.