4 Surprising Things Leaders Aren’t Responsible For
Stress goes up when you take responsibility for things you can’t control.
You’re doomed when you confuse ‘accountable for’ with ‘responsible for’.
#1. Leaders aren’t responsible for results.
“Leaders are not responsible for the results. Leaders are responsible for the people who are responsible for the results.” @simonsinek
Leaders are accountable for results. Other people do the work.
The leader’s work is people. The people’s work is getting things done.
10 questions accountable leaders ask themselves
- How can I become the person I should be?
- How will I stop doing other people’s work?
- How do I honor and reward people who get stuff done?
- How can I hire the right people?
- How do I delegate effectively?
- How can I build trust on and with teams?
- How can I set clear goals, track progress, and remove obstacles?
- How can I get out of the way? What might I do that impedes progress?
- How can I maximize strengths and protect people from their weaknesses?
- What are the best methods for helping people improve?
Bonus question: How can I improve?
#2. Leaders aren’t responsible for employee engagement.
You can coerce conformity, but engagement is freely chosen.
You can create environments where engagement is more likely.
- Hire for engagement.
- Invite engagement.
- Reward engagement.
- Honor engagement.
- Punish disengagement.
- Coach for engagement.
- Fire for disengagement.
#3. Leaders aren’t responsible to make people happy.
Happiness is a choice we make for ourselves.
You can create environments where happiness is easier to enjoy. You can’t make people happy.
- Help people achieve their goals.
- Connect purpose to work.
- Include relationship building in your daily goals.
#4. Leaders aren’t responsible to know all the answers.
You are responsible to help people find answers, not have answers.
Mark Miller said, “I would tell my younger self to stop trying to have all the answers.”
What AREN’T leaders responsible for?
What happens when leaders take responsibility for things they can’t control?
Image source for Simon Sinek: Sinek speaks at TED
Great post today! Question for you: How do you define the difference between responsibility and accountability?
Wonderful question, SB. I didn’t check the dictionary definitions. Here’s how I’m using the terms.
Responsibilities – things I am doing that I have direct control over. I’m responsible for the way I show up, for example. Leaders are responsible to do things that build positive culture is another example.
Accountable – things I answer for but that I can’t control. Leaders are accountable for reaching goals and responsible for taking action to reach goals. But, you can’t be responsible for outcomes you can’t control.
You might get fired for not reaching goals. That’s being held accountable.
I hope I’m not splitting hairs.
When I show up to give a presentation. I’m responsible for preparation, delivering the content that’s consistent with my brand, caring for people, doing my best to connect.
I’m accountable for outcomes, but I can’t guarantee outcomes. I can guarantee that I’ll show up prepared and I give it my full attention. Some audiences enjoy my presentations more than others. Occasionally someone doesn’t like something I say. I feel responsible to learn from feedback when someone holds me accountable for something I said.
I wonder if that helps or just muddies the waters?
I appreciate the reminder that I am not responsible for employees’ happiness, but rather for creating a work environment filled with purpose, connection, and opportunities for growth. I work in a setting where there are limited options for promotion or job change (due to our size), but infinite opportunities for professional growth… so if you’re looking to move up, you probably need move on to a new place of work. I’m learning that in situations where work conditions are optional, a person’s continued unhappiness is sometimes their internal voice whispering to them, “it’s time to do something new” but they aren’t yet ready to do so. Happiness IS a choice we make for ourselves and when happiness requires change, it can take time to gather the courage to make that choice. Having honest conversations with employees where we get to the root cause of their unhappiness often helps alleviate it, even if they aren’t ready to move on just yet.
Thanks MJ. Love where you’re going with this. When you see someone shift from happy to unhappy – and it’s more than just the normal ups and downs of life – bring it up. It’s one way a leader says, “You’re wellbeing is important.”
This is exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you!
I’m so glad to be useful. I wish you well.
My thoughts exactly, Jasmine. I certainly needed these words today. Thanks Dan!
This is a GREAT article and a timely reminder. I recently good over a new department at work and the majority of the staff are looking to me to make them happy and fix all the problems. I keep reminding them this is “our” department and not “my” department.
This is all excellent advice for being a good leader and building a great team but I still believe that at the end of the day, you should hold yourself responsible for what happens in your organization.