Razing the Fault-Finders
You know the Fault-Finder. I’m sure you’ve encountered them along your leadership path.
He or she crouches in meetings, waiting for some unsuspecting prey to offer up a new or creative idea. Then they lean back in their conference room chair, and fold their arms across their chest. They whisper something to the person next to them, causing that person to smile nervously.
They know their prey is ripe for attack.
They wait for that delicate moment when the person delivering the new idea says something wrong, and they pounce like a cat on the new idea, tearing it apart with their sarcasm and counting on everybody’s fear of change to back them up.
Sadly, the weak people in the room do back them up. Maybe because they think the Fault-Finder is cool, or because they like the fact that they’re fighting change. I’m not sure which.
Here’s three qualities of a Fault-Finder:
- They don’t raise, they raze. Fault-Finders tend to use sarcasm to get others on their side. They don’t have the ability to create, so they focus on tearing down.
- They tend to pompously deliver mediocre information. They say obvious things with a tone that insinuates profundity, when, in fact, nothing new is offered.
- They bully behind the scenes. By nit-picking other people’s results, they create a fear cage at work. They’ve learned that if they spew sarcasm and bully others, they won’t be challenged in meetings.
- While their stories are big, their results aren’t. Want to know if you have a Fault-Finder? Peek behind the curtain of their results. You’ll usually find a little manager pulling a lot of levers.
I wish that every leader would ask the following of the person finding fault:
Okay, you obviously found a hole in the plan. Now I ask you, what would be your solution to this problem?
Forcing Fault-Finders to offer something constructive is often like throwing water on the Wicked Witch. They tend to melt into the floor, reiterating the flaw while melting.
Leaders should be aware that sometimes the weakest members of their team are damaging the creative, risk-oriented top-performers.
Never let a Fault-Finder kill a new idea. Defend the creative, and encourage constructive problem-solving. Reward the best solution, and you’ll raise your team up.
Reward the Fault-Finder, and you’ll raze your results.