May 122015

Avoiding Responsibility is Like Throwing People Under the Bus

Companies are run by people, and people often hate taking responsibility for their own actions. All too often, the inclination is to blame someone or something else to bolster a self-image and explain away a problem.

In today’s political culture of spin, modern leaders are less ready than ever to admit fallibility. The phrase ‘mistakes were made …’ has entered the political lexicon as the most passive and detached way of acknowledging error rather than accepting responsibility.

As a leader, you’re responsible for what happens in your organization. You need to question the decisions and processes that hold your organization together because you’ll be held accountable, and the consequences can be severe.

Responsibility is not about power, but power brings about greater responsibility, and the executive or manager who doesn’t acknowledge their responsibility can indeed be a poor leader. When you accept a position of leadership, you accept the responsibility that comes with it. It is not an acceptance that should be taken lightly.

As a responsible leader, your main focus should be to ensure that you and your organization act responsibly, ethically and fairly. More people are needed in influential positions who embrace ideas around responsible leadership.

Gandhi claimed that, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.” So it starts with us. It’s not easy; there can be many obstacles, particularly if you’re fighting the status quo. We can begin by asking – what counts as great leadership in responsible organizations?

Taking responsibility is the right thing to do. When you constantly blame others and view yourself as a victim, you surround yourself with anger, resentment and negative thoughts. This process can bring on chronic stress.

So quit playing the blame game and take some time alone to review the situation. Admit when you might have helped create the problem, look for a lesson to be learned, and then take the initiative to learn from it.

The last thing you want is a reputation of throwing people under the bus. It may help if you take the time to step back and avoid knee-jerk responses. Make sure you give credit when credit is due, as this is important as well.

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