"Maybe it is my fault…"


Didier Marlier

May 23, 2010

From Disruption to Engagement

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Here is to the wonderfully courageous, highly human and therefore imperfect leaders who courageously take the risk of exposing themselves, by getting closer to their people, aiming at co-creating clarity, purpose and wide ownership around their company’s Strategic Intent. Most of the times, their people respond in a truly mature way (“adult-adult” as the Transactional Analysis aficionados call it) and some other times, the courageous move is met, temporarily at least, by a “blame the circumstances attitude” (the “rebellious” child-parent relation).

We had lunch yesterday with two wonderful friends of our son Betinho. One of them was enthusiastically talking about the rugby tournament his Business School had taken part to. “If it weren’t for the referee, we could have finished in 8th position on 25 teams”… Blaming circumstances again… I jumped and quoted the movie that a leader in Bank Julius Bär had shown me just the day before:

I love the quote left by G. B. Shaw: “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them!”

It is urgent that we, leaders, step down from our pedestal, reduce the “Power Distance” and truly engage with our people. If we believe in the “Intelligent Organization”, if we are serious about “People being our main asset”, there is no other way.

But some of our people, after so many years of obedience have grown into the behaviour that “it’s easier to be a slave” and blame the boss (look around, there are countries where this has become a national sport…) We need to be prepared for it and help them regain the assurance that they can make a difference and that they can and should influence the organization they chose to be a part of…

After two weeks non-stop in Brazil and Switzerland, on my way to Lyon, Paris and Zürich again. Have a great week all!



  1. Johannes

    “The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.”
    (Albert Ellis)

  2. Walter

    Fascinating piece, Didier!
    Do you remember Ortega y Gasset’s “Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia, y si no la salvo a ella no me salvo yo” (I am myself and my circumstance, and if I don’t save it, I don’t save myself). We all get a particular set of cards to play with. The question is what we do with it.
    Keep up the good work!

  3. Didier Marlier

    Thank you very much Walter, and from what I read on Linked-In you have decided not to be a victim of circumstances yourself and chose to create your own conditions for success. All my respect and abraços Didier


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