During seminars when I teach leaders the principle that “People don’t do dumb things on purpose.” invariably some joker will say, “Looks like you haven’t met my people.”

You may be thinking the same thing because like me, you’ve observed people do some really dumb things. What is important to understand, though, is no one wakes up in the morning and looks into the bathroom mirror and says “You know, today I think I’m going to sabotage my job by doing something really stupid.”

No, for the most part (with perhaps a few isolated situations) people don’t do illogical things on purpose. There usually is another reason. Perhaps they don’t know what or how to do the things you want them to do (or why). Maybe they don’t have the tools or training to do the work. Could be there is a roadblock you are not aware of. And in some cases there may be a negative consequence tied to doing the right thing.

Mediocre managers believe that people do dumb things on purpose. These managers shake their heads, throw their hands up, and blame their people.

Effective leaders assume positive intent. In other words they recognize that people thought they were doing the right thing. They know that when someone is doing the wrong thing there is a reason and it is in their best interest (because they get paid for what their people do) to investigate why the person is doing something that seems illogical. Then they uncover and remove the root cause.

Author's Bio: 

Jeb Blount is a leading expert on leadership and human behavior. He helps companies, teams, and individuals transform their organizations and accelerate performance through intense focus on interpersonal relationships. He is the author of five books including People Follow You: The Real Secret to what Matters Most in Leadership, People Buy You: The Real Secret to what Matters Most in Business, Sales Guy’s 7 Rules for Outselling the Recession, Business Expert’s Guide to Small Business Success and Power Principles. To learn more call 706-664-0810 x102 or email carrie.martinez@peoplefollowyou.com.