So far in this series on the 12 qualities of successful leaders, we’ve seen the following:
- Great leaders have a vision
- Successful leaders delegate
- Effective leaders have the foresight
- Successful leaders read and research
- Great leaders have a risk-taking attitude
- Successful leaders have character
- Building followership
- Effective leaders listen to understand
- Team building and encouraging teamwork
- The servant leadership philosophy
- The power of optimism in leadership
Here is the twelfth quality: effective leaders understand responsibility, not just accountability.
Accountability and responsibility contrasted
To be accountable is to be answerable for your actions or the ability to justify your decisions or actions. But responsibility goes a step further; it means that one understands that the success or otherwise of the organisation depends on him. A leader isn’t just working because he has to give an account of his actions, but he does so because he truly desires to see the organisation succeed as though it were his.
King Saul in the Bible knew that he was accountable to God and the Prophet Samuel but didn’t think he was responsible for any outcome of the expeditions. So, he blamed the soldiers for sparing Agag and the fat animals instead of taking responsibility for the assignment at Amalek.
Adam always knew he has to be accountable to God as the head of the family, but when he and Eve obeyed the voice of satan (the serpent), he refused to take responsibility for what transpired but blamed Eve. That’s not the right attitude of the head of the home and all created species.
But Moses not only saw himself as accountable for his actions but also saw himself as responsible for the actions of the entire nation of God’s people Israel; no wonder he exclaimed: “… please forgive their sin–but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”
Our Lord Jesus saw Himself as both accountable and responsible for all those God gave Him. In fact, He said, “while I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”
The Nine Effects of Responsibility.
Responsibility is a quality that both elevates people to leadership positions and makes a leader effective. It is a characteristic that every successful leader has. Here are the effects of responsibility.
1. It makes you Results-oriented
Responsibility makes you results-oriented. You can be the most popular or well behaved in an organization, but if you are not getting results, no one would consider you for a leadership role.
Every organization has a vision and specific goals it’s pursuing. And only a person that sees it as a responsibility to accomplish such goals is considered to lead others.
2. Uncompromising on Organisational values and standards
Also, effective leaders are able to follow rules and guidelines while aiming for growth and expansion. They find a balance between following procedures and thinking outside the box. So, as a leader, the quality of responsibility ultimately pushes you to aim for results without compromising the values of your organisation.
3. You Desire the best for the organisation
When you’re responsible, you want the best for the organization, and this includes the workers. One thing responsibility teaches you is that it’s not always about you and how you feel. It’s about others – the organization, employees, stakeholders, shareholders. If there’s something that has to be done in the interest of others, you’re willing to do it, although your interest may not be top of the list.
One thing that may help you is the understanding that the success of the organization and its employees is your success as well. So, your interest and that of the organisation you lead should align.
4. It makes you Value criticisms and Fix problems
In my article on the importance of listening as a leader, I explained how listening helps you make better decisions and plug loopholes, both in character and decisions affecting the organisation. It’s because you are responsible, that’s why you want to listen to other views that may not strictly align with yours.
So, responsible leaders accept criticisms for the things that go wrong. And they go on to fix them without trading blames. It’s good practice to identify what went bad and where the error began, but responsibility demands that you don’t spend much time dwelling on whose fault it is. Rather you take responsibility for whatever it is and fix it.
Successful leaders are neither excuse-makers nor blame shifters. People who always have an excuse for not doing something or doing it wrong hardly become successful leaders.
5. Responsibility builds Team Trust
Responsible leaders always have the trust of their team. When people know that you don’t allow others to roast while you cover up your footprints, they’re more willing to trust you. If a leader always disappears when things go bad, allowing others to fix the problem, a time will come when no one will trust him anymore and if there’s a problem, they’d all leave, leaving him alone to bear the full weight of the consequences.
6. You are willing to make tough decisions and bear the consequences
If you’re unwilling to look at issues critically and determine which direction to go, then you won’t be effective as a leader. Always dragging decisions to the point where it seems like everyone took the decision, and so everyone should shoulder the consequences is just an irresponsible way to lead. Yes, you need to listen to others as great opinions can come from anyone on the team, especially experts in that field, but in the end, it’s your decision, it’s your call.
You don’t take the glory when the organisation succeeds and share the blame when it fails. No, you shoulder the fails too. Successful leaders are neither excuse-makers nor blame shifters. People who always have an excuse for not doing something or doing it wrong hardly become successful leaders. They spend much more time explaining away their failures than actually putting in work to get something accomplished.
7. Responsibility changes your mindset and pattern of thinking
How you look at problems and the type of solutions you bring to the table, is often a function of how broad your perspective is. And because you are responsible for the outcome of any decision, you carefully sift through these perspectives to make sure it’s in the best interest of the organization.
8. It affects how you behave and relate with your team
Successful leaders hold themselves to high standards. They have a yardstick against which they measure themselves.
Truly, you indeed need to be humble and adopt a servant-leadership philosophy, but that doesn’t mean that you lower your standard and values because you want everyone to like you. You’re humble to serve others, but you still understand that you don’t have to chatter, drink and act irresponsibly just to show that you’re one of them.
Although Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, He didn’t cry nor sorrow before them – He often took the three apostles to pray but at some point left them to go farther to groan in prayers.
9. It Encourages the team members to take responsibility
Responsible behaviour as a leader is important because it influences those around you as well; people are more willing to accept responsibility for their actions when the leader is responsible. It becomes a culture that spreads to everyone in the organisation.
Thanks for reading. Please share this article if you found it helpful. Also, Make sure to check out other qualities of effective leaders on this blog.
God bless you and see you tomorrow with another dose of inspiration.