Have you ever been in a situation of great ambiguity? On the one hand, you want to say yes and accept the offer on the table. On the other hand, you are battling with your higher self that gently but firmly reminds you why saying yes now is not in your best interest. What to do? I always ask my clients to dig a bit deeper in these situations because the truth is often buried beneath the perceived needs of the ego.
Here’s what I mean. A few years ago I was fortunate to work with a number of leaders who on the surface appeared to have it all; the big title, the big office, the big salary along with the perks that go with big titles.
But cut to the chase. These leaders felt like the proverbial fish out of water. Neither was ready from a technical nor emotionally intelligent perspective. They were just getting into the swing of their previous positions, just getting a sense they feel they know what’s expected of them in this lower position, when their own direct report got the idea they are ready to be promoted.
Why do leaders make such myopic decisions especially in important situations such as who they hire to lead a particular department? Multiple reasons, but the most egregious of all is to make such decisions without taking into consideration their own personal responsibility in the matter.
Why consider personal responsibility over the abilities of the people you lead? Because at the end of the day, everything rises and falls with the leader. If your decisions are driven by everything and anything except a sense of being personally responsible for the outcome ( good, not so good or neutral) then it really doesn’t matter now who you put in a particular role does it?
Leading with a sense of personal responsibility helps a leader ask the tough questions. Without these questions organizations are faced with situations described earlier with the leaders.
Examples of leading with Personal responsibility:
- It is at the core of why leaders invest quality time and energy in the people they lead. They have regular one-on-one coaching sessions for development
- It is why leaders ensure their people follow the agreed to principles and standards, by demonstrating this commitment through their actions first
- It is why leaders hold themselves accountable to the very principles and standards they agreed to first, before they call their people to task
- It is why leaders ask for feedback and look for even the tiniest kernel of truth that is in it
- It is why they invest in their personal learning and growth see it as their responsibility not the organization’s to grow and develop to the best of their potential
- It is why they know the success of their career does not rely on their organizations-but on themselves
So the leaders with the struggle between their higher selves and the ego had to learn many of the above principles behind personal responsibility. Some of them even asked themselves the tough question-‘should I ask to be demoted”? It wasn’t an easy journey but a few stayed in their positions while others left the organization to pursue different career paths.
They were tasked with learning the above principles and demonstrate this through actionable deliverables. I was told the greatest lesson of all that was learned by these leaders was that of being personally responsible first for themselves and their careers. They realized this helped them better weather the challenges of change and demands faced on a daily basis.
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