While I was creating a leadership course a little while ago I rediscovered a definition I had learned for leadership early in my career. I can see how this definition has affected me and how I lead but I had totally forgotten the learning. It is simply this:

“Model, teach, create and develop commitment to personal responsibility” 

I can’t tell you the name of the author because it was created for a company I worked for in my late 20s and while I still have the binder the creator did not put his name on it anywhere. 

I can see through my career and life how this definition has shaped the way I managed as well as what I expected from Managers I worked with and for. It definitely still shapes how I coach and it’s been over 10 years since I saw this training. 

When I found it the other day I looked at my relationships both personal and professional and realized this is really important for me. I have distanced myself from people, companies and clients who don’t show a commitment to personal responsibility. 

When we move into a leadership role we move from getting things done ourselves to getting things done through others. It’s no longer about doing the job it’s about motivating others to get it done. If the people working for you don’t have personal responsibility it is infinitely harder to get things done. 

For me, personal responsibility means that you will do what you say you will do. While life happens sometimes and what you thought you could do changes, that doesn’t change personal responsibility. It just means that you communicate with those who are depending on your work. When you make a mistake you own up to it and again communicate it to those on your team.  

As a leader you need to model these behavior. Admit to your team when you have made a mistake, it makes it safe for them to do the same. Do what you say you will do or let them know the change in timeline. Then be there to help them through when they make a mistake. More importantly, share the wins. Remind your team of the team wins as well as the wins that came from each individual. 


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