Why it's worth being 100% responsible

Leadership Blog  |  3 minute read

Emily Wright

Written by Emily Wright

Why it's worth being 100% responsible

One of the most demanding parts of being a breakthrough leader is being responsible, and by this we mean taking “100% responsibility”, but with a difference...

Go look at how responsibility is usually defined; authority, control, power, influence, liability. These all describe conventional responsibility…responsibility which controls. But personally, I wouldn’t get in line if being 100% responsible meant ‘my head might roll’ when something goes wrong – would you?! And this is what we’re up against when it comes to taking full ownership as a leader.

 

It’s not about doing more…

Most organisations task managers with driving productivity. If you look at the popularity of 1950s’ ‘time and motion studies’, the focus had been on what people were doing and how they could change work methods or job rotations to see an uplift in output. A trend that continued right through the 70’s and beyond.

We are now at a point where the term ‘productivity’ in of itself can prompt a negative response; seeming detached and mercenary.

Today we’re in a ‘real time world’, where the exponential speed of innovation and change needs us to be agile in our thinking and wonder “what is the one thing I could do now to affect this…?”

In our 21stcentury, what drives productivity has shifted from ‘what people are doing’ to ‘who people are being’.

 

Being responsible

So, what sort of ‘being’ does breakthrough leadership look like? Fundamentally, it’s about ownership. Seeing yourself as decisive and responsible in the matter. For many ‘responsible’ people I have worked with, they get this concept intellectually, but then feel overwhelmed by ‘how am I going to get this all done?!!!’. But responsibility is not only about the promises you make, but also the requests you make of others and being willing to call out the ‘breakdowns’ early, to drive success.

 

What it’s not?

Being 100% responsible is not about being resolute and plugging away until the early hours – unless that is your idea of a good time! It’s working with others to achieve something great or breakthrough without ever expecting the results to appear from somewhere else. Or blaming others if it doesn’t happen.

 

A final thought…

Anyone who has worked with Achieve Breakthrough will recognise this renowned quote from Goethe; it perfectly encapsulates our choices in the ‘worlds’ we operate in;

 

“I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humour, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.”

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