Final Responsibility

One seemingly obvious, but easily forgotten, leadership principle is that of taking final responsibility. Not just responsibility, but final responsibility. We are all basically responsible people (even if we may have different interpretations of what this means), but nothing infuriates people more than those who agree to take something on and then don’t see the job through properly. Those who do, though, will usually impress.

Taking final responsibility says that in the area in which I lead, I am not going to have others come chasing me, I am not going to justify or excusing a failure to complete a task, and I am going to learn from my mistakes if I let someone down or realise that I could have done better. It says that others shouldn’t have to clean up, fix up or finish up after me. I don’t just ‘work to rule’ and only do what I’m told, but I show initiative and do the best job that I can.

While we’re not about people pleasing for wrong motives or about beating ourselves up, we need to be able to get ahead in life. Good follow through does that and it refuses to blame or buck-pass. For example, you’ve upset someone by your actions and you say, “I was wrong, I shouldn’t have done it, I’m sorry” – no conditions and no excuses.

So, if you’re using a room at work for a meeting, you take responsibility for leaving it better than you found it – tables, floor and whiteboard all clean for the next users. You’re attending a meeting and you then participate enthusiastically, note down your jobs (rather than waiting for the minutes) and follow through with all action points or clarifying conversations. You’re dealing with a dissatisfied client and you bend over backwards to resolve the problem, even calling again to demonstrate great customer service. You even do it with your kids, by following through on discipline issues or tough incidents at school by talking about the detail, their feelings and what they would do differently next time, making the time for them even when you don’t have the time.

This is living with the humility demonstrated by Christ who came to serve and lay down His life for others. This is ‘wow’ing people so that you stand out from the pack. This is also responsible management of your environment so that you consider others and become a better friend, a more likeable person and a more effective team player. It’s about saying ‘if it is to be, it’s up to me’. It is about saying, ‘I’m responsible for this and I’m not having someone clean up after me like I’m some self-absorbed kid who is owed something by the rest of the world’.

It’s the principle of final responsibility.

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