Leadership Test: Take Responsibility
- By Andre Boykin
Every time you turn on the news you see people that do not want to take responsibility for their own actions. It seems as if we live in a world where it is in vogue to blame someone else for our own situation. That is why real leadership is in such short supply; because a leader takes responsibility for not only their own actions, but also for the actions of those they lead. As part of your development as a leader, let's explore why taking responsibility is so important.
Being an effective leader is about having the power to influence people. When a leader has power, the leader is able to have people take the actions they want to take, but would not otherwise take if the leader had not been present. This power is different from authority; because authority is granted, while power is earned. Results obtained from authority are "forced" while results from power come from influencing.
Taking responsibility is one way to have more power with people. An illustration of how to have power can be found by looking at teenagers. If you have a teen who has demonstrated responsibility by making good grades in school, by associating with a wholesome group of friends, doing their assigned chores well at home, that teen has power. If that teen asks mom and dad to borrow the car to go to a party, the likely answer is going to be "yes." On the other hand, if you have a teen who does just the opposite, that teen has no power. When the latter teen asks to borrow the car the answer is an emphatic "no."
By taking on more responsibility the leader has more power. So if you want to have more power, simply take on more responsibility. The key is not just to verbally take on responsibility, but to own the responsibility. By taking ownership of the responsibility you place yourself in complete control of the outcome. You and you alone are not only responsible but accountable for the outcome. This means you can never play the role of the victim.
If you are a victim you are at the mercy of someone else. A victim is helpless and can't do anything about the circumstance. As long as you take responsibility, you have power not only with other people, but over your circumstances as well.
Lastly, the leader has responsibility for the people they lead. If something doesn't happen the way it was planned to go or a project is a failure, the leader takes responsibility for the failure. The leader takes responsibility even if the failure was the direct result of someone else on the team. The leader's viewpoint is one that says the reason the team member failed was because there was something in my leadership that caused that person to fail. A leader that tales full responsibility, asks themselves:
- How do I need to communication so we can have a better outcome?
- What decisions do I need to make to create positive results?
- What support is needed that would allow my team to succeed?
Taking responsibility is a big part of leadership. Start to cultivate this skill as part of your training for leadership. Cultivating this skill will set you apart and build your reputation as a great leader.