I am not a political businessman. In fact, I abhor politics in the business environment because it breeds distrust and forces people to focus on covering their behinds instead of doing their jobs. There is nothing positive that I can think of that comes out of politics in the workplace.
An Important Leadership Skill Is Accepting Responsibility
Having said that, I also abhor leaders who, for political reasons, refuse to accept responsibility for their organizations. A case in point, unfortunately, is the current President of the United States – Barack Obama. Because I don’t know him personally, I cannot say what his motivations are. However, as a seasoned business leader, I can clearly and confidently say that he is not leading the team that he chose to run the government. Why? Consider the following:
• He claims to be running the most transparent government in history, yet few people understand what he is doing or why.
• He never seems to know when anything of significance is happening.
o He was not aware of the understaffed security in Benghazi.
o He did not know that the IRS was targeting conservatives in their audits, or that they were deliberately delaying the approval of organizations requesting non-profit status.
o He had no idea that the websites for the healthcare signups were not ready and had not been thoroughly tested.
In this blog post, I am not concerned about President Obama’s political motivations. What I am concerned about is his lack of leadership. Not only has he not accepted responsibility for those making bad decisions in his organizations, but he has not taken steps to discipline or remove any of the offenders. In addition, he has allowed everyone, including his press secretary, to make all manner of excuses and to deflect the blame for all of these situations on someone or something else.
Organizational Leadership Start With The Leader
One of the major lessons every leader learns is to accept responsibility. As a business owner, if someone screws up in my organization, IT’S MY FAULT!! Whether I knew about the screw up or not has nothing to do with it – and it does not absolve me from being ultimately responsible for what happened. In every sense of the word – THE BUCK STOPS WITH ME!
Accepting responsibility involves a number of visible, actionable items:
1. It means that I must accept responsibility, both publicly and privately.
2. It means that I must stop the negative action that is happening and deal with those involved.
3. It means that I must take measures to insure that the negative action never happens again.
4. It means that I must clearly communicate what I have done, both publicly and privately, and ask for the forgiveness of those whose lives have been impacted.
5. It means that I must clearly let the other leaders in my organization know that this type of behavior is not acceptable and encourage them to communicate that message to everyone in their organizations.
That is what real leaders do. They own their problems and they solve them. They are men and women of honesty, integrity, and action.
How do you lead your organization? How you answer this question will, in many respects, determine just how far you will go in life.