Leadership: Taking Responsibility for Our Choices
by Bill Pullen
I had dinner recently with my close friend, Sarah. She is a
mid-level manager at a large technology firm. She is not
happy at work, and she lamented her work situation during
our meal. If "R & D" were smarter, she would be happy. If
Sales would listen to her, she would be happy. If
Management would connect to what is going on in the firm,
she would be happy. If she did not have to commute every
day for an hour each way, she would be happy.
The following day I had a similar conversation with a
client. Janet is the CEO of a sizeable corporation. It is
her team's fault that she is overworked. Because of their
incompetence, Janet is so busy that she has little time to
spend with her family. She is out of shape because her
workload leaves no time for exercise. If her team were
better, the organization would be more profitable. Then the
board would not come down so hard on Janet.
It happens to all of us. We realize that things at work or
in some aspect of our personal lives are not going the way
we want them to go. Deftly we find other people or outside
circumstances to blame for our dissatisfaction. Thus, we
avoid taking responsibility for personal choices that
perpetuate the problems we face.
Shifting blame for our problems away from ourselves
eliminates our need to take charge of our own lives. By
blaming other circumstances or other people for our
problems, we avoid taking responsibility in our jobs, in
our families or in our communities. We abdicate leadership.
We give our power away to the people or the organizations
around us. Then we become frustrated when the results we
want are not forthcoming. Having stepped out of leadership,
though, we are powerless to make effective changes toward
We regain our power to affect change when we recognize that
our choices, whether conscious or unconscious, and our
actions create the circumstances around us. Although we
will have to face the fears that come with change, it will
be in recognizing that we have options that we will become
empowered again. We will reclaim leadership.
Sarah can continue to be angry and dissatisfied with her
work situation or she can choose to do something positive
about it. Janet can choose to be frustrated because her
team is not performing to her expectations or she can take
action and change the team's performance for the better.
Each woman needs to choose. Either she is going to stand on
the sidelines and be a victim or she is going to step up,
claim responsibility and be a true leader.
It is not always easy to take responsibility for our
choices and our behavior. Many times, in fact, it is quite
difficult. As we reclaim accountability, though, we realize
that we are capable of being effective leaders. We become
the authors of own stories. We create our own destinies.
This is the heart of what it means to be a leader.
• In what area of your life do you abdicate responsibility?
• What does it feel like?
• What choices do you avoid making?
• What actions do you need to take?
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Believe you can succeed and you will. Achieving success in
whatever endeavor you choose may be the goal of life, because it
gives you freedom from worry. Could that be?
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Want to know how to measure CEO performance. Look at financial results, sure, but great CEOs have 5 defining personal characteristics.
Self-Confidence Is The Key To Personal And Professional Success
We’re born with high levels of confidence in certain areas and not in others. And it’s different for all of us. But we’ll need different levels of confidence depending on what we want to do with our lives.
About the Author:
Bill Pullen is President of Pullen & Associates, a
Washington, DC based consulting firm providing coaching and
consulting services to individuals making change as well as
corporations, the federal government and private
organizations. His work focuses on managing change,
developing current and emerging leaders and building
leadership capacity within organizations.
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