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Living above the line - how winners behave

Camelia Petrus, Senior Consultant, PGDip Work Psychology 

There are three winning behaviours and three responses that’ll sink your team.

Are you living above the line? If not, you need to get there, as it’s the easiest way to transform workplace culture and team performance.

Here’s how, using the OARBED behaviour model:


The acronym starts with OAR - when behaving above the line, one takes: Ownership.Accountability. Responsibility.

Below the line, BED, is defined as: Blame. Excuse. Deny. No matter what, reacting in these ways is below the line.

Consider the likely reaction of a naughty child caught in the act. If five-year-old Bobby is caught pulling his sister’s hair, he may resort to BED behaviour:

Blame: 'She made me do it.' Excuse: 'She pushed me first.' Deny: 'I didn’t even touch her.'


Adults don’t typically pull hair, but BED behaviour could look like this in your office: Someone misses a deadline… and they blame an internet dropout; make an excuse about not having the necessary information; or deny the project was their responsibility in the first place. This behaviour alienates oneself, while hurting team performance and morale.


On the other hand, paddling with our OAR means, regardless of our initial thinking, we must take ownership, accountability and responsibility. When we live above the line a resolution is found faster, individuals feel more supported and we’re more likely to learn from our mistakes.

OARBED has no hierarchy. Would your team be comfortable calling you, or anyone else, out on below the line behaviour?


Remember, thinking below and acting below are not the same. It’s human nature to dip below the line in our minds, but it’s how we act that matters. Staying in BED is easy, but paddling with your OAR is much more effective and in time the whole team will be paddling in sync.

"The best apology is changed behaviour." - Anon

Camelia graduated from Massey University Auckland in 2005 with a PGDip in Psychology majoring in I/O (work) psychology. She joined the team in 2016 where she leads the Business Development team. 

As a Senior Consultant she looks closely at the business and at the people leading it and its teams. She guides them towards new, more relevant and meaningful ways to grow their business and their relationships or to solve business challenges. 

Her favourite leisure activities include outdoor activities, spending time with family, traveling, and learning/discovering new things.

Contact Camelia for a copy of our OARBED resource to further understand how you can implement this in your business.

Camelia Petrus

Senior Consultant, PGDip Work Psychology

Get in touch by Email or phone: +64 9 3666005