I wanted to tell a story about how I did not pass the buck today. Given the nature of my business, it’s hard to figure out what wise disclosure on a blog might be, so we’ll just say that I passed the test and didn’t pass the buck.
It would have been easy to brush this situation under the rug. And I could have allowed someone else to unknowingly bear the brunt of the blame, but I didn’t.
I’m not saying this to brag and show off about how full of character I am. We all have strengths in our character. We all have weaknesses. Thankfully, at work, I’ve worked hard at being willing to take responsibility when I’ve fouled up. And it’s ever so tempting to pass the buck, to shew the blame on down the line.
There are a billion ways to pass the buck.
- We can blame colleagues
- We can blame our busy-ness
- We can blame clients
- We can blame the computer system or the ridiculous barrage of emails in my inbox.
- We can blame the systems or the processes
- We can always blame management. They’re always fouling up, no?
One thing I’ve had to put my foot down about at work is this: I’d rather be fired after admitting to having made a bad decision or screwed up on a task than develop the reputation for never taking responsibility.
This position on taking responsibility was affirmed today when I listened to Michael Hyatt’s podcast: Why Accountability is Vital for Leaders. I’ve heard the good Mr. Hyatt mention the importance of leaders taking responsibility many times.
Perfection isn’t possible, so why pretend like we never screw up?
If we fess up, then we’re teachable. If we’re teachable and hardworking, then we’ll improve or we’ll figure out we simply need to move on.
Taking responsibility – being accountable – for our performance helps a quality leader or manager uncover our weaknesses (even if we’re our own manager or leader). If we constantly gloss over our screw-ups, then we won’t give opportunity for teachable moments and growth.
Taking responsibility is vital not only to being a leader, but for growing.
I recently lost an opportunity to a competitor. It would have been easy to blame the situation and circumstances, circumstances that were beyond my control. My contact passed the decision regarding my potential proposal to a colleague. The colleague had a friend who offered the same services I do. The colleague’s friend got the business.
I could blame them for not giving me a fair shake, but that wouldn’t teach me a dang thing.
The better approach is to ask the right questions.
- What could I have done differently?
- Did I clarify well enough who the decision-makers were?
- Did I trust my relationship with my main point of contact too much?
- Did I provide enough value in my initial appointments?
Passing the buck shields us from having to stare at ourselves in the mirror and face our imperfections.
Taking responsibility? That sucks for a few moments, but it creates opportunities for growth and learning.
Where you do you tend to pass the buck? Where do you struggle with taking responsibility?
(Leave a response in the comments)
Reading and Listening (in addition to the Hyatt podcast mentioned above)
Grow Your Social Media Following with These 10 Different Kinds of Posts – This is Your Life (Podcast) with Michael Hyatt & Michele Cushatt
My Top Ten Favorite Books of All Time – This is Your Life (Podcast) with Michael Hyatt & Michele Cushatt
See You at the Top – Zig Ziglar
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