Don't Take it Personal
I’m a responsible person.
Most days that part of my personality is a blessing, but it also has the potential to sabotage my leadership if I’m not careful.
One of the “grey leadership” issues I’m currently working through is the difference between taking responsibility and taking personal responsibility.
As Executive Director at Cross Point I am responsible for the effective management of the staff, the stewardship of our resources and the execution of our vision. Where this gets grey for me is when I shift this responsibility to feeling personally responsible for every activity or decision that happens at Cross Point. When a poor decision is made, when a staff person takes the heat for something that they shouldn’t have been blamed for, or when something critical falls through the cracks, I have a tendency to take these issues personal. I immediately go into evaluation mode wondering where I failed, where I didn’t give clear direction, where I could have helped before the incident happened?
Recently I was talking through a particular situation with my husband, trying to make sense of the feeling of failure that was overwhelming me. My very wise husband stopped my thought process and told me that I was taking it too personal. (Yeah, go ahead an imagine how well I responded to that. 🙂 )
But after I calmed down to listen, he spoke some wisdom that I needed to hear:
My responsibility is to give clear direction, articulate expectations and coach along the way. That is my responsibility. I can’t feel personally responsible for misses that were beyond my immediate control. Rather than wallow in feeling like I failed somewhere, I need to lean in and coach our team through whatever the circumstance.
I’m currently reading the book The Leadership Pipeline with our leadership staff. This book is really challenging me to consider the value shifts that I need to make to reach the next level of my leadership. I realize that I’m having to make a value shift in regard to responsibility.
I am not personally responsible for every action of our staff, but I am responsible for making sure I am providing direction, coaching and clear expectations. Not taking personal responsibility does not mean that I am not engaged or involved. It just means that every miss doesn’t become a personal setback for me as a leader. We will miss it. We will miss it often and I can’t let our misses turn into a personal defeat.
What about you? Do you assume more responsibility than you should?