Do you take full responsibility… I mean really… in a conscious way?
If you’d asked me that question a few years ago, I’d have answered with a big “YES, ‘course I do!”. I was genuine, I didn’t fear to stand up when something had gone wrong and “take responsibility” and I was incensed by people who didn’t, oooh those ones who had a long list of reasons why they weren’t to blame, grrr. In fact I was so “responsible” I sometimes took responsibility even when it wasn’t my screw up, see I took 200% responsibility. Responsibility Ninja I was!
When I objectively look at my behaviour then I realise that I was in full blown “hero” mode: I offered myself to the altar ready to be stoned by the blaming crowd but Saint Carine didn’t care because she knew that she’d show her team how you “take responsibility”, she knew her peers would be in awe of her strength of character, she knew her boss would see the halo above her head and recognise it (if not now then later, at bonus time ;).
Bullshit. I was an unconscious leader, why? The above behaviour reeks of blame, guilt and desire for acceptance and that means that this leader is driven by fear.
The problem is fear freezes you, it diminishes your talents and capabilities, your ability to see the big picture. Basically you’re no good at providing a solution which is what is usually needed.
So do you want to take full responsibility as a conscious leader? Here are my top tips:
- Be self-aware, look beyond your behaviour, for me it was being the “hero”, are you being the “victim” or the “villain”? We call this the drama triangle and when you see it call it out and tell yourself: “I am enough, I respect myself and others therefore I do not need to play a game.”
- Simply accept the situation as it is. It may not be in line with your beliefs or values but it just is. And accept the emotions (yours and others) that may come with it. Not easy but important to be able to move on.
- Stay curious, who’s right or wrong doesn’t matter, it’s about seeing how the issue can be resolved. Anger, blame are “closed” behaviour which don’t shed any light on an issue. Stay curious to be constructive, that’s what the organisation needs.
- Focus on the learning, everything is figureoutable even in your darkest hour, even if that means saying NO to the big boss or big client. What are the learnings of what looks like a mess? By staying focussed on the learnings, you stay in a high-energy, positive zone, away from the drama.
- Be the solution, isn’t that a much better, comfortable place to be in? I don’t know about you but I find the whole blaming/anger/victim thing tiring whereas when I’m part of the solution I’m full of energy.
Let’s be honest, taking responsibility as a conscious leader is easier said than done at first, especially if you’re the only one holding the “conscious leadership” light. You’ll find that sometimes it doesn’t work and you’ll have to accept it and focus on the learnings still to be gained (even if it’s just for you). Sometimes it will work and everyone will see the benefit of focussing on the learnings and moving towards the solution, you may even convert a colleague to taking full responsibility in a conscious way.
Let me know what you think and if this is helpful. I’d love to hear about your experiences.
All the best