Taking responsibility – a key to leadership integrity

Can you recall a time recently when clearly you had been “done wrong” by someone – a colleague, team member, manager, friend or even a loved one?  In some way they had “failed to deliver” what was either normal, expected, within the bounds of that relationship. Worse they had “done a dirty” either knowingly or unknowingly?  How did you feel?

And when you talked   to them about it, how did they react?  Were there excuses, explanations, denial or blame or did they acknowledge what had happened, took responsibility and proceeded to put it right? 

Needless to say these two different responses would elicit a totally different experience for you as customer, colleague, employee, friend or partner? Isn’t it refreshing when it’s the latter and you are still left wanting to continue the relationship rather than losing trust altogether and voting with your feet?

So, just to turn the mirror on ourselves for a moment –   when was the last time you did the same to somebody else? How quickly were you able to move – to take responsibility for the mistake?  It’s not so much  that these mistakes happen but more how we deal with them – or not –  which is what makes all the difference.

The degree to which an individual takes ownership for their own actions and results they produce and the capacity to look first to oneself to determine the cause of an event, rather than to others is a reflection of the responsibility we are willing to take.

This ability to take responsibility, and to make good on our promises is a key element of integrity.  In business and life, we want to have relationships with people we know to have integrity. Ultimately who we are speaks a lot louder than anything we say and sometimes do.  Integrity is built and is noted by others over time.  Integrity is not about degrees and should not be messed with. Be conscious of how precious this gift of integrity is and how it permeates through everything you do including your outcomes.

Jasbindar Singh is a business psychologist and leadership development coach.  She helps clients become more conscious of their strengths as well as any blindspots  which may be acting as unconscious barriers to their success.

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One Response to Taking responsibility – a key to leadership integrity

  1. Rick Maurer says:

    Jasbindar – Good post. Thanks.

    I’d like to add a thought to your post. Our knee-jerk reactions can get in the way of our good intentions. (The emotional intelligence folks would call these amygdala hijacks). These knee-jerks occur when something triggers us: an insult, a roll of the eyes, things building up too far, and so forth. I find in my work with leaders that often attention to knee-jerk reactions is one of the most helpful places where I can support them. For instance, I have seen leaders get frustrated in meetings of 200 people, give into a knee-jerk reaction by attacking a speaker or getting snarky, and set their projects back months.

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