In leadership, the shepherd must be responsible for the sheep. That’s all. Although it’s a tough one, the clue is that, when you look after your team, your team will look after you. This is why leaders who look after institutions are also looked after by those institutions. Leaders must commit to building organisational ambassadors and organisational army, if not organisational citizens.
So one of my CEO friends in a discussion said to me: “I have been responsible for my team all this while but they still give me away”. Sad, isn’t it. I encouraged him not to worry because it is part of leadership. So I introduced him to learn the art of empathy. Within responsibility is empathy.
Learning to be responsible for others is a skill and an attitude in leadership development. Look after your people. Your team will never care that you know until they know that you care, as J.C. Maxwell advises. Look after the business and administer every asset.
Using the Ocean’s Five Factor Model (Hughes et al 2015), get to know your team’s individual personality traits, test their aptitude and cognitive skills, demand performance from them in line with their Job Descriptions (JDs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), reward and punish as they learn to account for their stewardship. Ensure every asset is fully utilised because you are responsible for every asset’s performance.
Responsibility comes with capacity to accommodate, sometimes, unreasonable demands; and learning to manage egos and follower-tantrums. Nevertheless, it is actually a beautiful experience to be responsible for a whole team’s successes and failures. Responsibility must be a lifestyle as a leader and your every move must point toward ownership. You have the obligation to look after your people, processes and tasks.
In effect, a true leader leads his people, processes and tasks to succeed. When you fully imbibe the concept that responsibility is a lifestyle, you’ll always tune into improving yourself, followers, processes and tasks around you. To be responsible requires a lot of emotional intelligence too. You should be alert to align your thoughts to your feelings so you can align your followers’ thoughts to their feelings for smooth people management outcomes. This is a skill to crave for in leadership.
As a matter of fact, leaders feel uneasy to shoulder destinies of irresponsible followers. The apprehension should however be positive. To be a responsible leader, learn to constantly calibrate by providing solutions and showing empathy, rewarding excellence and providing appropriate sanctions for deviance.
To be responsible, you need to have firm control over situations, and be on the move to chart a new path for followers to follow with minimal resistance. It’s not a bad feeling to be nervous sometimes as a leader. It’s actually great to feel overwhelmed with issues. Just have control of yourself, situations and your followers. When actions of your followers make you feel underwhelmed, embrace that as well. Submit yourself to be accountable for your successes and your failures. Show interest in individual and collective goals.
To be responsible, you need to be there for the team. When you are there for the team, listen. When you listen, act!