I hate that phrase. CYA. Cover Your Assets… ok, well I cleaned it up a little.
As a leader, you’re going to screw things up, make mistakes, make a bad decisions. Most of the worst disasters in leadership happen AFTER these mistakes and bad decisions happen. Why? Because everyone is covering their butts to make sure they don’t get blamed for the fiasco. If you are the cause of the fiasco, shouldn’t you take responsibility? When you look at all the huge scandals in Washington, it has more to do with uncovering a cover up and exposing the conspiracy to cover up than the actual deed itself.
In the superhero movies, the disasters happen because they’re trying to protect someone from knowledge of a situation. Plausible deniability. In most cases, they make the decision on what people’s choices should be rather than let them make the choices themselves. “I couldn’t tell you my secret identity because then you’d become a target and I couldn’t let you do that.” What would have happened if the hero said, “Look, I have a secret that I need to keep that makes sure I am safe. If I share that secret with you, you might be in danger. Do you want to take that risk?” OHHHHH. “I understand, nope, don’t tell me.” or “I understand and I’ll stand by you to the end or at least until I get a good bid from the Daily Planet…”
Studying the Holy Week, you look and you see the highest echelon of the Jewish religious leaders deciding that murder was a good thing. And to ensure that this murder was legal (!) they had 3 illegal trials and an illegal vote. They then went to the Romans who had no clue why anyone would want to kill this Jesus guy. He was no threat. He was an itinerant preacher who did healings and stuff…just like all the other itinerant preachers. But they had 3 illegal trials and police brutality and an illegal execution because they wanted to look good to Caesar and prevent a riot (that had been orchestrated by the religious fanatics and egged on by the religious leaders!) So in covering their behinds, they murdered an innocent man and started the largest religious movement.
If you have to CYA, then you’re probably making things worse. It will catch up to you. If you make a mistake, a bad decision, or screw something up, own up to it. The short-term consequences will be much less than the fireball that happens after you cover it up.