“Blaming others is an act of refusing to take responsibility. When a person can’t accept the fact or the reality, they blamed another person or the situation instead of taking accountability.”
Dee Dee Artner
“For every King is right in his own eyes and rests the blame to whoever he wishes to carry it.”
Delegating. While I could argue delegating is one of the most difficult things you learn to do as you move up in an organization <and one you MUST learn or will inevitably fail>, accepting responsibility, blame or accolades, is a whole different discussion and an entirely different learning challenge.
That sounds odd even as I type that. You would think no one actually has to learn to accept responsibility for their, well, responsibility. But all you have to do is look around the hallways of any management floor and some leaders in the public eye and you will see a shitload of people who seem to have actually mastered the skill of placing blame on whoever they wish <other than themselves>.
Regardless. I would say that the difference between delegating and accepting responsibility can be captured in two key words — learn versus accept.
You have to learn how to delegate.
You have to accept responsibility.
Here is a truth. No one, and I mean no one, has to learn how to accept responsibility. You either accept it or you do not.
And to explain the ‘accept’ part let me remind everyone of “double joys and halve the griefs.” What I mean is that you learn to double down when accepting responsibility for ‘blame’ or failure and you only accept half the responsibility, at most, on the successes and accolades. In other words good leaders halve the griefs <if not accept all> to those you delegate to and double the accolades for those you delegate to.
That is the basic “good formula.”
But some people want zero the grief and 100% the joy. These are the quasi- leaders who authorize people to do things not out of good delegation but rather to distance themselves from any decision that may create a less-than-positive outcome.
Shit. No. Double shit.
There may be nothing more heinous in leadership management acumen than the delegation of responsibility with the intent to absolve one from potential negative outcomes. All potential repercussions get sifted first and foremost through the hands of the one who has now been authorized.
In other words that crappy leader handed someone some rope to potentially hang themselves with.
Setting my bitching & disdain aside, I have to ask why some run away from this responsibility.
Well. I will admit that making mistakes was a shitload easier years ago when I was a young whippersnapper attempting to move up in the business world. Bosses were fairly forgiving of mistakes and you learned that accepting responsibility for the bad as well as the good not only didn’t harm you but actually helped you grow as a person.
In today’s business world, shit, in the world itself, forgiveness isn’t that normal. Mistakes become opportunities to fire someone, demote someone or, in general, torture them. While in the good old days your mistakes became hallway whispers and break room gossip, today your mistakes become facebook posts, email chains and twitter memes. What this teaches people is assuming responsibility for a mistake has disproportionate consequences and doesn’t really help you grow as a person.
The way up, or to survive, seems to be somewhat dependent upon disproportionately shirking responsibility for the errors and disproportionately accepting responsibility for the successes.
It’s kind of the worst of both aspects.
In a past post I mentioned … ‘accountability in today’s business world is stuck in the sludge at the bottom of the business moral barrel.’
I believe accountability for decision making in business is either nonexistent or far too random to be considered standard operating procedure.
To be clear <part 1>.
This is not about someone holding you accountable. This is about you holding yourself accountable especially when no one is holding you accountable.
To be clear <part 2>.
Today’s business world is strewn with cowards.
I know that sounds harsh, but not only do people fear being accountable in general they are absolutely scared shitless to be accountable for indirect consequences, i.e., being accountable for anything beyond the obvious cause & effect.
It is cowardly behavior.
And it gets worse in my eyes when I google search ‘integrating accountability in business’ and I find almost everyone discusses in some form or fashion the need to ‘clarify what it means to be accountable.’
This is crazy to me.
Accountability for decision making, to me, equates to a some sense of fearlessness bred within an organization <some people call this “psychological safety”>. Fearless in terms of making mistakes <and not being overly chastised for doing so> and fearless in terms of a ‘doing what is right’ mentality.
All that said. Organization culture or not, people don’t need someone to define accountability or honoring commitments or any of that crap, people just need to assume responsibility & accountability as part of who they are and how they act. Holding yourself accountable is nothing more than following through with YOUR commitments and responsibilities whether you have authorized someone or delegated or any other excuse some of these cowardly leaders use to distance themselves from any real consequences.
We are responsible for our actions – all of them.
We are responsible for our inaction – all of them.
We are responsible for the repercussions of our actions & inactions – even the unintended results.
We are responsible for our thoughts and the behavior attached to them.
We are responsible for our mistakes.
And, yes, we are responsible for the actions & inactions of the people we have authorized shit to or delegated to.
Interestingly, an author Linda Galindo argues that the only true accountability is “personal accountability” and the only way to achieve it is to take responsibility for the outcomes of your choices, behaviors and actions – to the level of 85% of everything you touch or are associated with.
I could debate the 85%, but as far as the intent I couldn’t agree more. This seems like a hard thought for many in business to not only grasp, but accept.
Why? I could provide an excuse by suggesting in a world where it seems like collaboration is the standard operating procedure and tasks are delegated in a fragmented fashion <often under the guise of ‘specialists should work only on their specialty’> the actual outcome has been impacted by so many hands it is difficult to tie it to one hand, let alone the leader decision maker, directly.
This means many business people want to avoid assuming responsibility for others actions, or maybe better said, they don’t want to be accountable for something they didn’t have 100% ownership of.
This is really silly thinking.
This is cowardly thinking.
Here is the good news.
People who have personal accountability are happier, more respected and more successful professionally.
People who have consistent accountability actually increase the likelihood that they WILL get some credit for indirect positive consequences.
So if you can fight your way thru the doubts in being accountable in certain situations and fight your way thru systems which seem to crucify you for mistakes and accept the responsibility, you will end up in a better place – as a person and professionally.
Best? You also get the satisfaction of laughing at all the cowardly assholes you see mumbling excuses, shifting responsibility and ultimately doing whatever they can to avoid any blame for the mistake/missed deadline/project gone wrong. The ones who are quick to point the finger at anyone and anywhere but themselves.
Yeah. I will admit. Some of those ‘blameless assholes’ are really slick when it comes to accountability and personal responsibility.
They vocalize responsibility … with caveats.
They accept positive accountability for anything that has any appearance of clear cause & effect wrapping it all up with anything that doesn’t have clear cause & effect and deflect negative accountability results with a flick of an “I authorized them to do it.”
They seek to have 0% griefs and 100% joy.
They are fucking cowards.
“We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”
In the end.
This is about personal responsibility and personal choice. If you do not dare to do what is right then … well … it is cowardly behavior.
“Manliness consists not in bluff, bravado or loneliness. It consists in daring to do the right thing and facing consequences whether it is in matters social, political or other.
It consists in deeds not words.”
I honestly don’t care about cowardly behavior, daring behavior or heroic behavior. Doing what is right and accepting responsibility & accountability should be required behavior of our leaders and shouldn’t be celebrated, it should just be expected.
Me? I believe no one should have to hold me accountable for my actions & responsibilities. No one but me should set whatever standard I set for myself.
All jobs carry the burden of some responsibility. I don’t care if you are the most junior maintenance person or the most senior person in the world. And if you have some responsibility you will also have the burden of accepting responsibility for what you do, what you may have asked someone to do and even some shit that wasn’t done <but would have been within your purview if it had been done>.
Shirking that responsibility is the refuge of cowards.
Period. End of story.