“To be a person, is precisely, to be responsible”- Antoine de Saint-Exupery
There are many aspects which come to mind when you think about leadership. In over 4,400 research reports we have seen on qualities of leaders, one of the most important I believe is responsibility. The willingness of a leader to take responsibility for their lives, their actions and their destinies.
Leaders understand there is only one person responsible for the outcome and that person is you. The fact is, our current results and situations are the sum total of our decisions. We, as leaders have created the past and the present in our lives, careers and organizations. We will only have a different outcome of the future if we decide, first of all, that is what we want, and to make the decisions to create it.
One of my teachers in High School taught me a very valuable lesson. She said that everyone in the class was starting the year with an A. Our mission was to do the work necessary to keep the A. If we wanted the outcome at the end of the year to be an A score, we simply must decide to do A work. I think I ended up doing B work, but that is another story. Our mindset must be that we live in a land of opportunity and we can determine our own destiny if we take responsibility for it.
Another area, as leaders, we must take responsibility for, are the obstacles and problems we face. Leaders understand that it’s more than likely not going to be a waltz to the finish line. It will be more like an obstacle course. You will have to fight through, climb up, jump over, swim across some obstacles and solve some big problems. By the way, remember, those who solve problems get paid. A Christian friend of mine recently asked me if I would rather have more blessings or more problems. I surprised him with my answer. I said that I was certainly thankful for all the blessings I have and I am appreciative every day for them, however, solving problems is how I get paid, so getting some more problems wouldn’t be a bad thing. By the way, I bet solving problems is how you get paid also, think about it. There is no overcomer without something to overcome.
Great leaders don’t make excuses, they overcome the problems in their lives. They find ways to help their friends solve problems. They encourage team members to band together or solve problems on their own. Great leaders accept the responsibility of confronting and overcoming challenges.
This week, the great Muhammad Ali celebrated his 70th birthday. Muhammad was always one of my favorites, maybe because he was from Kentucky as I am, but also because as a youngster, I was always so impressed with how much he believed in himself. He was a loud-mouthed kid from Louisville who spouted off big predictions (if he’s still alive, he’s going down in five!) and then had to take responsibility to create the outcome he predicted. He had to exercise, train and hone his craft to show up and do what he said he would do. He took enormous personal responsibility to stay disciplined to confront the challenges of being the greatest. He believed he was the greatest before he was and then he took personal responsibility to become what he believed about himself.
You are on your way to being an exceptional leader of yourself and others when you can begin to accept you are completely responsible for everything you are and everything you become. When you begin to realize you are responsible for everything you achieve or fail to achieve. You are where you are today because of yourself, your own thoughts and your own behaviors. The great news is, it can be changed or continued. You are in control of the outcomes of your life and greater outcomes are possible when you accept greater responsibility for them.