Rob Lefferts, good friend and Group Program Manager at Microsoft, offered me a gem of advice. If there is a list of laws for being a good manager, this would be near the top:
The Lefferts law of management: It is your fault.
As a person with more power than the people who work for you, there are probably a dozen excuses in any situation for why things are not going well: don’t use them.
If you need more help, it’s your job to ask for it. If someone let you down, it’s your job to plan better next time or find a way to recover. If you are the bottleneck, it’s your fault for not delegating more. Whatever the thing is that isn’t going well, you are the primary person to do something about it. If you’re not sure what to do, it’s your job to ask others for advice.
This law should be the primary working assumption in trying to understand a situation. Certainly there will be many cases where someone else is at fault, but start your diagnosis by assuming otherwise.
If you have the title ‘manager’ in your name tend towards absorbing blame for what is going on, while distributing the rewards. When all else fails, be the fall guy. If people see you take enough bullets for them, soon they’ll be taking some for you.
Being passionately accountable creates a shield for others and makes it safer for them to invest more personal responsibility in their work. When they do, things can only get better.
When in doubt, good managers assume anything important that’s not going well is their fault and do something about it.
[edited lightly 9-23-2016]