As a leader in a position of authority, “taking responsibility” may not be something you think about – you assume you are responsible. You know that you are responsible for your business’ success, hiring and firing, training, performance reviews, and a whole lot of other things. You would likely find all of these in your job description.
Yet there are a lot of things that you need to take responsibility for that aren’t explicit or written down anywhere. If you want to be a successful leader, there are some things that you can do to be in a better place to ensure that happens.
You’re in a leadership position because you were successful at getting things done. In your wildest dreams, you never thought that relationships were important. They are THE most important thing in leadership. So get out there and connect and communicate with those who support you. Don’t wait for them to reach out to you. Take responsibility, and get to know them and their expectations for you and your organization.
Does it come as a surprise that you are responsible for the well-being of the people in your organization? It’s far too common for leaders to focus only on the work at hand, and not on the things that will help employees thrive. When you do your best to ensure that they are satisfied, engaged, and working toward a goal that they believe in, you’ll have the best chance of having an organization that is successful. And while you’re at it, make sure you set a great example in this arena.
The numbers of leaders who don’t think developing themselves or their employees is important is shocking. The reality is that if you want to develop, you have to take responsibility for it. And if you want employees to develop, you need to assist them with your time and resources.
If I’m hearing complaints about an uncreative team from a leader, I ask about who hired them and who is responsible for helping them to be creative? You are responsible, and you can set a tone for creativity to happen. Are you encouraging new ideas? Are you open to risk taking? Do you help others learn from failure? If not, you need to change the way you deal with these things.
If your team members aren’t playing well together, you might not have been clear enough about your expectations (or you haven’t set any). I see it all the time – employees who become less than civil to each other when the leader expects civility. The leader gets frustrated and blames everything and everyone else. Let your team know simply and clearly what your expectations are for how they treat each other and hold them accountable to those.
Busting Through Barriers
If your own team members can’t get done what they need to get done because of organizational barriers, it’s your job to do so. Sometimes all it takes is someone like you who is in a position of authority and persuasive enough to tear down barriers. If your team members are stuck because of themselves (Lack of skill or knowledge? Lack of confidence?), ask them what they need and then help them to bust through those personal barriers.
What isn’t in your job description that will help you and your team to be successful?
More From Mary Jo Asmus
Mary Jo Asmus is an executive/leadership coach whose work spans decades of making a difference in the lives of hundreds of executives, leaders and teams in Fortune 500, mid- and small- sized business, governments and nonprofits. She focuses on facilitating individuals and teams from first-line supervisor to the C-suite to create, develop, and influence the relationships that can make them extraordinary.