When people think of responsibility and accountability, images of business suits and gloomy adult life come to the surface. We’re responsible to go to work, pay bills, take out the trash, clean the dishes, sweep the floors, and walk the dog.
The word “responsibility” has been anchored to represent blame, as in “I’m holding YOU responsible for this!” However, there’s a positive kind of responsibility and a negative kind of responsibility.
The Two Responsibilities On one hand, we have that negative kind of responsibility, the kind that nobody wants: Failure. Example: Little Jimmy was running through the house and knocked over the china cabinet. Unfortunately, Jimmy is responsible for this mishap.
On the other hand, we have the positive, uplifting kind of responsibility, the kind that people desire more than anything. Example: John donated $5,000 to the local food bank this year. John is directly responsible for the purchase of over 20,000 canned goods that will feed the needy.
Regardless of whether the responsibility happens to be negative or positive, leaders should take responsibility for their actions. By doing so, leaders show others that they are responsible for the success or failure of a project, and that they hold themselves accountable for their actions.
People gravitate towards people who hold themselves responsible because they see the leader as more trustworthy. For instance, if the leader were to make a mistake, the co-worker doesn’t have to worry about taking the blame for it. Or, if a team is working on a project, they know that each member will feel that they must accomplish the goals set by the team.
Authority Does Not Equal Responsibility, Responsibility Equals Authority When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus to a White man, she took responsibility for standing up for her beliefs. No-one gave Rosa Parks the authority to stay seated. They didn’t have to. Instead, Rosa Parks held herself responsible and accountable for the progression of the civil rights movement, and acted accordingly.
As a result, Rosa Parks left an example to all leaders that you don’t have to be “in charge” to be responsible for your actions. In fact, taking responsibility can make you an authority (as in the case of Rosa Parks being looked to for her opinion on civil rights after the incident).
SUPER RESPONSIBILITY BUILDING ACTIVITY: The biggest part of holding yourself responsible is following through on your purpose, vision, and self-awareness. To hold yourself responsible, you’ve got to keep the promises you make to yourself. If you break promises to yourself, even the small promises, you will lose confidence in yourself. Answer the following questions about responsibility:
Question #1: What is my responsibility in my life?
Question #2: What is my responsibility in my relationships? Question
#3: What is my responsibility in my career? Question #4: What is my responsibility in my financial situation? Question
#5: What is my responsibility in my health? Question
#6: What is my responsibility in my education? Question
#7: What is my responsibility in my spirituality?