The Mindset of a Leader Requires Taking Responsibility

Who can exhibit leadership?

Anyone. Anytime. It’s leadership behavior that’s crucial to teams, not an assigned leader.

Leadership is an emergent behavior (i.e., it emerges in a context of need or opportunity, rather than is assigned or part of a structure) that moves a group closer to its outcome.

Successful leadership can be learned.

What if there were a deceptively simple way of thinking that

  1. was independent of personality and personal style
  2. naturally supported and leveraged the complex adaptive nature of the human mind and personal development
  3. was a perfect fit for agile environments
  4. could be learned, propagated, and even spread contagiously throughout a team or organization?

Would you want to know about it? Would you pursue that mindset for yourself and your organization?

Such a mindset does exist: it is the mindset of personal responsibility and problem ownership.

Personal responsibility — taking ownership for one’s actions, outcomes, opportunities, and problems — is one of those few essential attributes executives desire most in employees yet seem to find in scarce supply. And it’s not just executives who would like to see more of it in others.

The frustration of relying on coworkers who avoid taking personal responsibility is experienced by anyone who shares responsibility with others to get things done and whose paycheck ultimately depends on the ability to create a productive relationship with those coworkers.

Most people like to assign the cause of their problems to others, but there is only one person who can change what isn’t working for you – you.

When you choose to respond intentionally to whatever happens in your life, you have the key to personal power and growth. A breakthrough discovery about how the mind works, the Responsibility Process™ illustrates how we avoid responsibility and how we take it. We are hardwired for both, so trust me, accessing successful solutions for when you are stuck — at work or at home — is a simple (though not necessarily easy) switch of mindset.

If you are interested in learning more about tapping into your leadership abilities, I invite you to check out The Leadership Gift Program for Leaders or my book “Teamwork Is an Individual Skill.”

Break through problems, accelerate your growth, and skyrocket performance with The Leadership Gift Program.

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8 Responses to The Mindset of a Leader Requires Taking Responsibility

  1. Excellent emphasis on leadership and taking personal responsibility. Countless examples have shown where negative impacts follow leaders sidestepping responsibility. People appreciate honesty and sincerity. An important reminder that we are in control of our environment and abilities.

    • Christopher says:

      Thanks Maria. Your comment about countless examples begs the question: what examples?

      If you (collective you, not specific to Maria) have an example of a leader sidestepping responsibility, please add it here. I challenge you to not just list things leaders did that you disagree with (i.e., politics, religion, etc.), but think through how that leader’s responsibility process landed them in defending, coping, or resisting, as opposed to learning, growing, and changing.

      This could be fun.

  2. You are so right with this post. The battle begins in the mind. Ownership is a beautiful thing (and, although it doesn’t look like it at first, it’s the path of least resistance).

    I believe the antithesis of Ownership is Entitlement – a trap that positional leaders tend to fall into, thinking they have authority based on their title. I hope I never have that said of me.

    • Christopher says:

      Hi Scott,

      Thanks for your beautiful turn-around — that complete ownership is the path of least resistance. Marvelous! The explain, it means this: would you rather have moderate accumulative anxiety for a long time, or a lot of anxiety for a very short time culminating in growth and development?!

  3. Christopher, thanks for the great post. Scott and you both directly answered Maria’s challenge. The problem isn’t that leaders sidestep responsibility. Almost anyone sidestepping responsibility is not what I like to call a character-based leader. To me a character-based leader leads from who they are rather than their position or power. Their influence exist precisely because they’re not the type of person to sidestep responsibility. When you think of someone as a “leader” and they sidestep authority, it could be a one-time mistake, or it must be that they’re only a positional leader. Their leadership does not spring from their person (or character) but from their title, position in line, wealth, connections or something outside themselves.

    Thanks again for a great post. Mike…

  4. Christopher says:

    Thanks Mike. The only addition I might make is that we all sidestep responsibility — leadership often means recognizing that, calling one-self on it before anyone else does, and stepping up to it.

  5. @ Maria @Christopher ENRON. Now, I’m going to tangent here and that as this topic is very viral for me. I’ll try to stay cohesive.

    One example I’ve seen in the corporate structure has led to the termination of others and the weakening of the business at large, unknowingly. Managers that do not accept responsibility allow consequences to fall on the subordinate individual. Unfortunate unemployment for one and a long term gap for the business to have possibly lost the wrong person, but in the end it’s a blessing in disguise for the individual to no longer work for said manager. Even if the blessing can’t be seen until h/she find another job 🙂

    Businesses sometimes are too large to see the long term impacts of this “side-stepping” behavior however, the psychology of businesses afflicted with it has common denominators. One of these common denominators lies in the language of the employees. As a leader of large organizations, if you can objectively observe without the group knowing, you’ll hear the “it’s just how it here” type of comments when it comes to providing feedback to management.

    To close I’ll add what I discuss in my Corporate Narcissism talk: As a manager, “Are you asking for feedback; or daring them to be honest?” Please answer with the response you feel “they” would provide… It’s surprising the types answers I get to this, to include people walking out of the room…

    Thanks Christopher for provoking this thought for me today.

    • Christopher says:

      I’m dilatory in responding to this fine riff Scotty. All well said. Thanks.

      I have a modest proposal I refer to as “Beyond Obligation.” One of the parts of the proposal is to refuse to work for “jerk” bosses or companies — thinking that you have to in order to earn a living (its not true, but it is a compelling illusion). It takes thousands of us thinking we have to take this job or contract in order to earn a living. What if we refused? Where would all the jerky business folks go?

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