Self Management -Take Responsibility

Posted on November 28, 2009


First things first.

Before we dive into the numerous leadership lessons and tales, lets begin with the one thing that matters most- Ourselves.

Ever had the experience of having someone doing something that made you unhappy? That right, I’m sure that you have. It could be that your boss conveniently overlooks all the blood and tears you have put in only to find fault in little insignificant details. It could be that your subordinates messed up a simple yet important task. Such things really do work up up, don’t they?

After the initial bouts of frustration, what then, do we focus on? Do we play the scenes of our incompetent subordinates over and over again in our heads, wallow in self pity for the situation we’re in, and continue to blame them for their sheer lack of skill?

Or do we choose to take responsibility of the situation and solve the problem?

Early in my leadership journey, I fell into the trap of blaming others. When I first served as a manager in a country club, I was particularly unhappy about how my subordinates were always late for work. The team had a rather laid back attitude and lacked focus towards achieving a common vision. Being new and a little rash, I chose to blame them and gave them a huge dressing down when they arrive to work late. Naturally, this created alot of unhappiness on the ground, and didn’t solve the problem. Eventually, I felt that my strategy is going no where, so I asked the more senior team members for advice. It was then I realised that punctuality was never really an emphasis by the previous Manager since she was often also late for work.
At that point, I decided that the problem was one of culture rather than one of individuals, and it would be foolish to blame them as it did not solve the problem. Having taken responsibility of the situation, I changed my approach and chose instead, to communicate with my subordinates about how I understood their difficulty to adapt and at the same time, still required standards to be met for reasons including productivity, service etc.

This became a turning point in terms of results. As the team members realise that there was a good reason to be punctual, they began turning up on time. Furthermore, understanding that their leader knows their situation only serve to make them more committed to being punctual.

This example, trivial as it may seem, reflects the theme of this article, and arguably the core attitude of leadership- taking responsibility. The moment the young and foolish I decided that I should not be blaming others, and should instead be solving the problem, I succeeded. All too often, we as leaders choose to blame others for the plight we are in. We like to say that “It was my boss’ fault” or “She can’t understand a simple instruction”, yet we do not realise that by blaming others, regardless of how they deserve it, we DON’T solve the problem. As leaders, once we make the decision to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY, we realise that we regain the ability to solve problems and make changes.

To end off, I’d like to leave you with a thought: When faced with obstacles, ninety percent of people choose to blame other; they may or may not be in leadership positions but they certainly are not effective leaders. Ten percent choose to take responsibility of the situation and solve problems as a result. They may or may not be in leadership positions, but they are certainly leaders in their own rights.

Are you within the ninety percent, or the ten?

Leadership Lesson- Take Responsibility.