The Lefferts law of management: It is your fault
Suits, the TV series, narrates the happenings of a New York legal firm.
Mike is a young rookie with lots of potential, but a lack of business knowledge and real experience. Harvey is an admired, goal-oriented professional, that gets the hardest part of the work done, in search of a sidekick who can take on his legacy in the future. Thus Harvey and Mike develop a protégé-mentor relationship since the moment they first meet.
We don’t have to wait many episodes to see Mike, the mentee, spoil a negotiation for an important client, after being late filling a form.
Mike is worried about Harvey telling the client the mistake was Mike’s fault.
Harvey: You think that’s going to be a walk in the park?
Mike Ross: Hey. Harvey. Did you tell him it was me [my fault]?
Harvey: Why would I do that? I’m responsible for you. It was me [my fault].
Mike was worried about what the client could think of him. But Harvey didn’t tell the client that it was Mike’s fault. Not because Harvey is good people, not because he wanted to preserve his mentee’s reputation.
He didn’t told the client it was Mike’s fault… because it wasn’t.
Even if Mike had been late, it really doesn’t matter. Harvey, nor any mentor, should expect Mike to behave exactly the way he is told. Mike needs to learn by himself. For doing so, he needs to learn from success, but also from failure. He needs to learn to make hard calls with incomplete information during crisis.
And that’s precisely why he needs a mentor in the first place. He needs someone who advice, lead and guide him. He needs someone who can own his mistakes while he learns from them.
- Related: The Lefferts law of management on ScottBerkun.com “If you have the title ‘manager’ in your name you should tend to absorb blame for what’s going on, while distributing the rewards. When all else fails, be the fall guy.[…] Being passionately accountable creates a shield for others and makes it safer for them to invest more personal responsibility in their work.”
- Related: Who is your sidekick. “On the other hand, a sidekick is someone you can train as your replacement.”