[January 25, 2016] My father refereed men’s basketball games at the local high school for many years. Well-liked and known for his impartiality and accurate play calls, he was in high demand. But what I remember most about the games was that whenever a player fouled or made an error, that player raised his hand up to show it was him. They did what leaders should do, claim responsibility for their mistake.
Claiming the mantle of responsibility means willingly accepting the fact that you fully embrace the burden of obligation, regardless of circumstances. Typically this is thought of within the context of a given level of authority but real leaders have the will (and obligation) to push those boundaries and accept even more.
We all know leaders who give excuses for their failure to perform … “it was not my fault” is a common defense. They apologize or they argue strongly that any failure was beyond their ability. Such is the failure of a leader in its most basic sense. A good leader should know how to look into the future and predict typical outcomes that can be planned for.
We also know bad leaders that push responsibility down in their organizations. Real leaders never delegate responsibility because they must themselves keep it; for it is the fact they have it that makes them the leader. Any leader unable, for whatever reason, to take responsibility for their actions and for the actions of those they lead, will lose their credibility, trust, and ability to get things accomplished in the future.
Responsibility is linked to honesty. U.S. President Harry Truman once said that “the buck stops here.” He was the ultimate leader; honest, truthful, and credible. He seized responsibility as the president, regardless how things turned out and gave credit to those who worked for him and to the American public when things went well. He was a great leader.
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Reference: Characteristic #5: Taking Responsibility – https://www.theleadermaker.com/characteristic-5-taking-responsibility/