Adaptive Leadership:Responsibility for the future

Culture in an organization is a direct product of the conversations leaders are having or holding within their organizations. Or said another way the culture of an organization is nurtured or destroyed by the conversations of its leaders. If you want more accountability with in your organization than you must be in a relationship of responsibility. You can create a powerful conversation and then let your actions follow in complete reflection of your words.

So many leaders just struggle with owning the results their people produce. The all to common thinking of some managers and owners is..”It is their (the employee) fault that they didn’t make the numbers or fulfill on a commitment”. Then the usual conversation is that you can’t find good help these days. Somehow to these leaders its just doesn’t seem like being a leader if you aren’t blaming or fixing others instead of leading them.

Adaptive leaders are engaged with teams and individuals in ways that produce actions and conversations about success and goals. The real work to be done is working on yourself. I recently have asked the following questions of some of my clients:

“How can you lead your organization (or family) to be prepared for the future you want for them?

“Given some of the circumstances and difficulty you know will likely play out; will you take it personally if those you lead are not prepared to perform?”

In other words, when “that future” shows up and the skills, knowledge, or abilities are insufficient…will you feel like you let others down? Quite often I see leaders blame others or tough circumstances as the reason for a lack of results. In one sense this may be true, leaders can’t control everything. However, they can take responsibility for the system they directly impact as a leader or owner.

Extraordinary leaders never place blame on anyone for the lack of results. Sounds harsh, but I did say “extraordinary”. If you take responsibility for everything then you never have to worry about being accountable. You just are accountable and you expect it of others as well. If your constituents don’t have the skills and perspective they need to “show up” prepared for a future…will you take personal responsibility when they don’t succeed?

  • Essential to Adaptive Leadership is creating awareness for the future and a vision.
  • Helping your team and organization know clearly what is expected of them is what responsible leaders do.
  • Helping others make good choices and trusting them to do so with your support is also essential.
  • When we don’t trust others to act on our behalf or even their own…what does that mean?
  • Usually we don’t trust ourselves and we have a lack of ownership of our own problems.
  • Reinforcing a culture of being responsible comes from your adaptive nature as a leader.
  • If you trust someone to be responsible they will act accordingly.
  • It is well worth the risk to allow someone to take your expectations of them and own their pathway to the end result.

In absence of responsibility the poison of “entitlement” seeps into our lives and holds us captive to inaction and blaming others for all our problems. Its not powerful and it is the biggest challenge facing our society today. We can be extraordinary and powerful beyond what we imagine when we engage ourselves and others in a shared vision and clear pathway. Take responsibility for everything. Its the simplest and most adaptive way to lead.

©2011 The Heartwood Group, LLC

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