One of my favorite lines from Joe in LEAD…for God’s Sake! is “Leadership is one part influence and two parts responsibility.
As people of influence, we must always take responsibility for our contribution to the problems that arise around us.” In other words, as leaders we must own our influence, especially when it contributes to a problem!
Unfortunately, taking responsibility is becoming more and more a thing of the past as leaders from all walks of life seem to be jumping on the blame game wagon, despite the fact it NEVER really solves anything in a family, on a team or within a society for that matter. In fact, more often than not, it perpetuates the problem by stirring up feelings of anger, resentment and defensiveness more than anything else. NOT a very effective way to build unity or solve a problem in any situation involving a group of people!
I address this issue frequently in my talks to teams and organizations challenging leaders to take responsibility for their contributions to problems not only as an important step in preventing similar issues to arise in the future, but also as a powerful step toward reconciliation. Let’s face it, it’s only natural for us to be a little quicker to forgive and lend our support to those who’ve genuinely acknowledged (and apologized) for their role in causing an issue – even if their role was a small part of the problem.
I often use the illustration above to show how, in almost any issue, there are multiple contributors bearing different levels of responsibility. Yet, even if one’s contribution was only 5% of the total cause, acknowledging and responding to that 5% is typically where the highest potential for impact lies. Make no mistake, taking responsibility is one of the most powerful steps a leader can take on the path toward meaningful change. So, the next time you’re dealing with an issue on a team, do a deep heart search to find your contribution first, own it (acknowledge and apologize), then watch others follow suit and pull together to solve the issue!
P.S. I’d love to share even more thoughts and ideas with you, so please drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Thoughts on leadership” in the subject line and I’ll make sure you receive my periodic emails.