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Thought Leaders Unpacked -> Clutch #7: A Leader’s Responsibility

thought-leadersA leader’s responsibility is to assume responsibility.

Unfortunately, like a fair-weather friend, many leaders—while more than ready to publicly accept responsibility for positive results—quickly shift responsibility elsewhere when outcomes are not as expected.

In this week’s chapter of Clutch, Paul Sullivan demonstrates that such a blaming tendency is linked more to failure than to success.

“Clutch” leadership, the ability to perform under pressure with the effectiveness that you would normally exhibit, is not characteristic of the blame-shifter. In fact, crucial to clutch performance is the

If you or I have a tendency to explain away our part in negative, difficult, or broken situations, we can pretty much count on choking. Instead of poised to face and work through the complexities that bedevil us, we will be presiding over our own unfolding ruin.

That’s enough of the abstract principles.

What about me? What about you? Do we dare hold up the spotlight of responsibility ownership to our own leadership practices? Our own choices, explanations, and approaches to problems?

Do I make excuses? Do I blame others, circumstances, or the system?

These are tough questions to face, because I can think of times when I do these things. I can think of ways I subtly don’t assume responsibility. Yuck. It feels horrible.

It’s hard to look at myself when I don’t like what I see. Really hard!

The point, though, with becoming a “clutch” performer, is that instead of avoiding, denying or minimizing my shortcomings, I choose to face them. The point is what I choose to do next.

Will I learn? Will I try something else? Will I muster the courage to engage where I have withdrawn, to try again where I have been ineffective, and to say aloud to myself and all others that I and I alone am responsible for what I have or have not done?

Right now I can feel myself wanting to shift back to discussing the abstract principle of accepting personal responsibility. But I won’t.

I have work to do. I imagine you do too.

Where do you find yourself making excuses? Shifting responsibility away from yourself? What was your main take away from this chapter?

On your side,

– Karl Edwards

Each week I post my reflections from one chapter of Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don’t by Paul Sullivan. My reflections are my own and are intended to generate conversation, catalyze additional thinking and encourage mutual learning.
If you are just joining the discussion now, welcome! Catch up on the entire series here.


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