In a recent Harvard Business Review article, author Peter Bregman points out that “If something isn’t your fault, then there’s no reason for you to do anything differently. Which means, in all probability, you’ll make the same mistake in the future. That will lead to more blame. It’s a cycle that almost always ends badly.”
Perhaps that’s why senior leaders value “taking responsibility” so highly when assessing candidates for hire and promotion. They want someone who is willing to take charge and not shirk from decisions. Who stays on top of problems and not assume that someone else will step in. And someone who has a results-based view, who views obstacles as challenges rather than excuses for why something can’t be accomplished.
Author and leadership coach Jack Zenger says there is a clear difference between “being accountable” and “being responsible.” In a recent Forbes article he wrote: “being accountable means you are answerable and willing to accept outcomes or results. But responsibility is the mindset that says, ‘I am the person who must make this happen.’”
Responsibility is a Choice.
So, how do you infuse more “taking responsibility” in your culture? The proverbial “walk your talk” is a good start. Being a responsible leader means you understand that your mindset and actions influence and impact those around you. And it means that you do things for which there might not be an immediate reward, but are for the greater good of the company. For example, most organizations don’t formally reward leaders who take precious time to mentor and develop upcoming managers. Yet, responsible leaders still mentor.
It's your responsibility, it’s NOT your fault.
Many times in business we are faced with problems and circumstances beyond our control -- things like the economy, new government regulations, competitive disadvantages, budget cuts, staffing problems, etc. While we may not be able to control the event, we can control how we respond. In his book “The Success Principles,” Jack Canfield addresses this concept with the equation E+R=O (Event + Response = Outcome). The basic idea is that every outcome you experience in life is the result of how you have responded to earlier events in your life or career. To change the results you get in the future, you must change how you respond to events in your life.
During the market crash in 2008, a record 881 U.S. auto dealerships closed their doors. Today, many of the surviving dealerships are thriving, as the economy is back and auto sales are booming. By and large, the survivors focused on the “R” by becoming more tech savvy, expanding inventory through online tools and sharing back office services to reduce overhead.
The bottom line is this -- if you are dissatisfied with outcomes in your business, take responsibility to make things happen, lead by example and focus on how you respond. By embracing a responsible mindset, positive outcomes will result.
Tim McKeough. Contributor
Tim McKeough is Founder of QUp Success and provides workshops, coaching and management consulting based on the “Success Principles.” Contact Tim For a free, no obligation Success Readiness Assessment of your team at firstname.lastname@example.org.