Take Responsibility

All of us own the responsibility to correct a wrong thing, or an embarrassment, at work

Take responsibilityAs associates or leaders, it is not uncommon that we have said the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Sometimes, it embarrasses us. When we try to cover up a wrong, or an embarrassment, with righteous indignation, a real problem can begin. The best thing to do is to resolve the problem, because we have responsibility for correcting the negative energy that caused the upset. This can be difficult at first.

Sometimes, when we have said the wrong thing and have hurt someone on our team, we really can believe that we were helpless to prevent it. We can feel that we have been provoked, and our staff member’s behaviour is to blame for causing us to say the wrong thing,overreact, or just be downright rude.

Two issues

To understand this, there are two issues to consider. First, how could we have created a space for a tendency to blame? For example, did you get your initial leadership training or experience from a company of blamers, or is blame prevalent in other areas of your life? If so, you may have been taught that this kind of projection is reasonable.

Second, are you willing to assign the role of a victim to your team members [or yourself]? You have the choice to cast away any thoughts of blame and get to the real problem – which may actually be you. To let go of the roles we have become used to, and to choose a new experience is the wisest choice to make – but, it isn’t easy.

To avoid reinforcing false beliefs that someone other than yourself is responsible for the problem – or,for your behaviour, don’t wait. When you first realise that you have said the wrong thing, stop and apologise. Besides, waiting for too long to remedy the situation can cause resentments to build in your company and that will affect the bottom line.

If your behaviour happens because you feel unappreciated, you need to appreciate yourself. If it’s been a hard day, you need to learn to ask appropriate questions, not snarl, grumble and try to make your team member feel as bad as you do. That creates a win/lose scenario rather than a win/win situation.

If you feel your team member has done something that was incorrect, it is appropriate to take immediate action and respond.

The correct method is to look at the person and say directly – and, kindly – what is that there’s on your mind, or what problems you see occurring from their behaviours.

Fix it

It can’t be fixed if it isn’t shared. Your team member, upon realising that the behaviour is inappropriate,should choose the necessary steps to rectify the situation. A little mentoring may also be a good idea.

Taking responsibility for mistaken words and doing what is necessary to correct the situation is a sign of a great leader.

Barton Goldsmith
Dr Barton Goldsmith, PhD, an award-winning and highly sought-after keynote speaker, business consultant and internationally syndicated author, has helped develop creative and balanced leadership in several Fortune 500 companies, educational institutions, and government organisations worldwide. He lives in California, USA.


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