Dealing With Accusations

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If you’re a front line supervisor or manager, occasionally someone’s going to make some allegations that might turn out to be totally false and inaccurate.

How should you, as a leader, respond when somebody levels an accusation about you?

First, let’s understand that the reason why somebody would fabricate something to harm your reputation as a leader might have nothing to do with the type of leader you are. I recall coaching a client on how to be a less aggressive leader. She’d been accused of being a bully in her leadership style. The problem that we discovered, though, was that her staff was determined to see her removed as a manager because she was increasing the expectations of her team and was more strict in how she applied work rules. They would falsely claim that she was pushing or shoving and being overly aggressive. These were very difficult allegations for her to deal with.

Being unfairly accused is a very uncomfortable situation. It's best if you can stay calm and professional, systematically refute the allegations, if possible, and be prepared to apologize. Click To Tweet

How should you react when somebody reports something about you to management that may not be true?

The first thing you need to do is to remain calm and stay professional. It does no good to lose control and get overly defensive. You should stay calm as you hear people’s allegations against you.

Secondly, always have a spirit of curiosity. You want to hear more about who said these things, what was said, the circumstances, and the specifics. Once you clearly understand the allegations then you can refute them systematically one by one.

If all else fails and things are clearly going against you, do not take retribution on your team in any way. When dealing with your team, make sure that you still treat them the same way. Continue to greet them and don’t isolate yourself.

Even though the allegations are false or exaggerated, it might be necessary for you to apologize.

You could say, “I’m sorry for any misunderstandings and I’m determined to be the kind of effective leader that you expect me to be.” The more that you can take the high road the better. Unfortunately, if your team decides that they want to get rid of you as their boss, they can say and do a lot of things to make your career progression very difficult. Many HR departments and management teams might decide it is better to sacrifice your position to keep your team happy. It’s unfair but it is a possibility. In that case, you will likely be in a position to negotiate a termination package and move on to a new opportunity.

Being unfairly accused is a very uncomfortable situation. It’s best if you can stay calm and professional, systematically refute the allegations, if possible, and be prepared to apologize.

Let me know in the comments below: If you are ever in a situation with allegations against you, what would be your course of action?

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