Cutting Off Reflected Failure - CORFing is practiced by attempting to distance or separate ourselves from some failure that may have a negative impact on our self esteem, reputation, or self image.
When your favorite team wins you BIRG saying “we won”, “we were outstanding” etc but when the team loses you end up saying “they lost”, “they didn’t perform”, “they never played like they wanted to win”. This is one example of CORFing. Here, you not only disassociate yourself from failure, you also give them credit for failure or rather put blame on them.
BIRGing & CORFing are easy to witness within the world of sports, but they also make their mark in the workplace. Within organizations, employees are motivated to align themselves with successful projects and products and distance themselves from failures. Although the point can be made that employees are doing it for the same basic self image benefits, they are also motivated to BIRG and CORF for job security, keeping themselves off the radar in bad times and calling attention to themselves in good times.
Over usage of BIRGing and CORFing techniques are harmful for everyone but if one is playing a lead/manager role then the over usage will lead to catastrophic impact as it can push you into a position for ego-preservation. Let’s coin the term BasCor Lead for a person who is a lead/manager and does over usage of BIRG and CORF techniques.
Such behavior can erode followership or a productive team atmosphere as others start to recognize that BasCor Lead is a fair-weather fan, only aligning himself with us when the going is good and “throwing us under the bus” when we hit some rough patches. An effective leader must be willing to weather the storm, sharing in the collective successes but also standing up for their team when things don’t go to plan. For most, BIRG and CORF can be more difficult to accomplish in the workplace as our affiliation with a particular team or project is often more obvious. BasCor Lead and others like him will find a way to do it, though. It may come in the form of claiming to have always disagreed with the failed approach the team took (CORF), or claiming to have been a staunch supporter/leader of a successful project that, in reality, they demonstrated ambivalence toward (BIRG).
However, we must remember that BIRGing and CORFing are not always intentional and that these leads/managers may not have realized the subtle (and not so subtle) ways they have exhibited it. This requires them to create strategic self-awareness of this tendency and the effect it has on team relations, thus curbing its prevalence. One can help their leads/managers by casting light on past occurrences of such behavior and the fallout or ramifications it caused.