There’s a lot of talk these days about responsibility in business.
To me, this always boils down to individual responsibility – individuals taking responsibility for their own actions. Without that kind of personal responsibility, any talk of ethics or morality seems, to me, to be less than useful.
But what does personal responsibility actually mean – in practice, in the nitty gritty of working life, in a company, in a business, where we are by definition working with others? Where really we mean joint responsibility, responsibility for the “we”, as well as for ourselves.
I think it boils down to three simple things:
- Taking responsibility for my contribution – to the project, to the business, whatever.
- Taking responsibility for the help and support I give to others in my team, in my business, around me. I can make a major difference by helping others succeed in whatever they aim to do.
- Taking responsibility for making sure that all our aims are reasonably aligned.
It is easy to ignore the last one, and assume it is someone else’s problem – the CEO’s, for example. But if we all individually take on the responsibility for working together well as a group, I think our chances of success are much better.
That’s three areas of responsibility, not one.
If you think you are already great at all three, try this simple test: give yourself a score from 1-10 on how you currently perform in your role, in your organisation.
Be honest. Look for any signs of blaming or undermining – this may, of course, be unconscious too – in each of the three areas.
- How fully do you take responsibility for your own actions, for gaining the results you wish to achieve?
- How fully do you support and help others in achieving theirs? Do you really know what their goals and aims are, for example? Do you help, or sometimes, even inadvertently, get in the way?
- And how well do you ensure that the whole group of which you are part works well? Do you sometimes, again perhaps without meaning to, undermine? Do you know that alignment is missing but fail to do or say anything about it?
Now think about how you would like your scores to be, from now on.