If you’re reading this, you’re probably in charge of an organisation or a team.
Which means you’re a leader.
And that means you carry the can. The buck stops with you. Sorry, but blaming others if things go wrong or not the way you planned is not an option. Leading your business is your business.
Taking full responsibility requires courage. Your biggest enemy is fear of things going wrong, what people might say, etc etc. The cop out is to make excuses. But that really isn’t the stuff of leaders. Good leaders are courageous leaders – who lead by example, from the front. This can even include holding your hands up and saying sorry when you make a mistake. Saying sorry means “I am sorry” – unconditional. How often have you heard people struggling to take full responsibility or diluting their role in a mistake – “I may have been partly at fault but…” or “It may seem that I was wrong but…”. Those same leaders don’t hesitate claiming full responsibility for successes!
And as a good leader, you know that a so-called mistake is itself a misnomer – it is a lesson. An important one. No great leader makes it only because of their many successes. They learn from their “mistakes”, and grow as a result. In fact it is often the learnings from these failures that brings about the seismic shifts in thinking to make the ultimate success story so much more profound.
Richard Branson said “Over 45 years I have learned a lot from making mistakes.” And even more famously, he once said “For every success story, there’s 100’s of near misses. Every entrepreneur fails before succeeding.”
You can plan and you should plan – carefully. But the best laid plans will not predict all circumstances. The future is uncertain. Everything is changing – continuously. The choice of a leader is how to plan to embrace the uncertainties of change. Then you don’t need to blame your customers, your suppliers, the government….. You take control and adapt your plan to navigate your way to the vision you have set.
And responsibility is not the same as power. Too many leaders get caught up in thinking about power rather than their responsibility to those they lead. Team leadership involves trust. You appointed your team members to do jobs for you. Making them responsible and accountable for their actions, and give them your trust and support. That is courageous leadership in action.
And before you think you’ve got away with it, allow me to make you squirm for a moment. Consider your own actions. Are you blameless here, or do you think you might have ducked your responsibility at times. Take a moment to think about the last week. Can you honestly say that there has never been a moment when you haven’t expressed frustration, or pointed at someone or something, or got agitated in some way because someone else did something that has affected your best laid plans – and you firmly believe that if it hadn’t been for them everything would have been so much better.
Stop! Time to take a great big reality check. Life is like that. You are a leader. Time to grow a pair. Face up to the facts, step up, accept full responsibility and adapt accordingly. You can stay on target and command so much more respect by sticking with your principles and beliefs, learning from the changed circumstances, adapting accordingly and making reasoned decisions along the way.