One of my favorite lines from Joe in LEAD…for God’s Sake! is “Leadership is one part influence and two parts responsibility. As people of influence, we must always take responsibility for our contribution to the problems that arise around us.” In other words, as leaders we must own our influence, especially when it contributes to a problem!
Unfortunately, taking responsibility is becoming more and more a thing of the past as leaders from all walks of life seem to be jumping on the blame game wagon, despite the fact it NEVER really solves anything in a family, on a team or within a society for that matter. In fact, more often than not, it perpetuates the problem by stirring up feelings of anger, resentment and defensiveness more than anything else. NOT a very effective way to build unity or solve a problem in any situation involving a group of people!
I address this issue frequently in my talks to teams and organizations challenging leaders to take responsibility for their contributions to problems not only as an important step in preventing similar issues to arise in the future, but also as a powerful step toward reconciliation. Let’s face it, it’s only natural for us to be a little quicker to forgive and lend our support to those who’ve genuinely acknowledged (and apologized) for their role in causing an issue – even if their role was a small part of the problem.
I often use the illustration above to show how, in almost any issue, there are multiple contributors bearing different levels of responsibility. Yet, even if one’s contribution was only 5% of the total cause, acknowledging and responding to that 5% is typically where the highest potential for impact lies. Make no mistake, taking responsibility is one of the most powerful steps a leader can take on the path toward meaningful change. So, the next time you’re dealing with an issue on a team, do a deep heart search to find your contribution first, own it (acknowledge and apologize), then watch others follow suit and pull together to solve the issue!
P.S. I’d love to share even more thoughts and ideas with you, so please drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Thoughts on leadership” in the subject line and I’ll make sure you receive my periodic emails.
Noted author and coach Todd Gongwer, who wrote the successful book LEAD…for God’s Sake, has been added to the speaker lineup for the 2017 ABCA Convention in Anaheim Jan. 5-8, 2017. Gongwer has spoken before countless organizations, including many college and university teams, professional organizations and major businesses.
His expertise in leadership and cultural dynamics comes from a broad range of experiences in the world of business and athletics, spanning over 25 years. He has held numerous executive positions in companies ranging from entrepreneurial start-up to public entity, while also serving as an assistant college basketball coach for over a decade.
Notable Leaders Impacted by Gongwer’s Message:
“An incredibly powerful message!…will inspire you to think more deeply about leadership and your true purpose in life!”
-John Smoltz, MLB Hall of Fame Pitcher
“A powerful message that challenges you to assess where you are as a leader in all facets of life! I’ve read it multiple times.”
-Brian O’Connor, Head Coach, 2015 NCAA Champion Virginia
“This book will reach deep into your heart and help you find the leader you really want to be; at home, at work, on the field, EVERYWHERE! – A must read.”
-Gary Gilmore, Head Coach, 2016 NCAA Champion Coastal Carolina
“Regardless of where you are in your leadership journey, this book will connect with you in some way!”
-Tracy Smith, Head Coach, Arizona State
“An inspiration…A must read for all coaches!”
-Monte Lee, Head Coach, Clemson University
“Outstanding! An excellent reminder of why we do what we do.”
-Jake Boss, Head Coach, Michigan State University
“A powerful message…clear, concise, entertaining and understandable.”
-Urban Meyer, three-time National Champion Football Coach