Pardon me, but did I miss something? While I wasn’t paying attention did someone declare a moratorium on responsibility? Is it just me, or does it seem to you that a lot of people don’t want to take responsibility for their actions anymore? It seems that every day there’s something new in the press about an executive who abuses his position and then tries to deny responsibility for it. Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay, Martha Stewart, Sam Waksal, John Rigas and sons, and now Rupert Murdoch.
The list grows daily. And it’s not just limited to the world of business. We see it with sports stars, entertainers, politicians, even men of the cloth. The litany of explanations, denials, reasons, plausible stories, excuses, alibis, rationalizations, mistakes, misinterpretations, and oopses goes on and on. Whatever happened to taking responsibility for our own actions?
Perhaps that’s one of the toughest parts about owning a business. Regardless of what happens in, to, or through it, it’s our responsibility. That’s right. It’s always our fault. And the sooner we as business owners accept this fact, the better off we’ll all be.
If cash is tight and we can’t pay our bills on time, our suppliers don’t want to hear about the customers who are stringing out their payments to us. They expect us to get more aggressive with collections, live within our means, or go out and find customers who will pay on time. They’re out there.
If customers call and complain about poor quality work, don’t bother blaming the workers or the equipment. It’s our responsibility to see that the right people are hired, that their training is complete, and that the equipment they use is updated and maintained.
If sales are sluggish, don’t point your finger at the economy, cheap competition, or any place else other than in the mirror. Give your customers good reasons to buy from you, and they will. And don’t let the reason be that you’re cheaper than everybody else. Get out of your office and go talk with them. They’re waiting to hear from you. But they won’t wait forever.
To use a metaphor from the world of education, owning a business is not a required course in life. It’s an elective. But one of the prerequisites for that elective is taking responsibility for what happens. So there’s no use complaining; whining; pointing fingers; looking for scapegoats; or shouting, “It’s not my fault!” If you don’t want the responsibility, then don’t choose this course.
You’ll find that great leaders in business, government, sports, and anywhere else take full responsibility for the results of their actions. Good and bad. Place yourself in that elite group of people by taking responsibility for yours.