Since we are talking about words, let’s start by looking at the meaning of the word Responsibility. According to the dictionary, to be responsible is to
a : able to answer for one's conduct and obligations : trustworthy
b : able to choose for oneself between right and wrong
On the other hand, the opposite of responsibility is irresponsibility. Which I think everybody can agree is not a good trait for a leader!
Here is the thing, when you are responsible, you earn people’s trust. Being responsible means you can be trusted by your friends, partner, children, and the people you lead. You are also able to choose for yourself between right and wrong. This means you are gaining ‘wisdom’, so an important by-product of being responsible is trust and personal growth.
As a leader you often need to take decision and consequently you are obliged to take responsibility for the same. Leaders do not lamely pass over the blame onto others. As has been said,“Great Success Comes With Great Responsibility”, this quote in itself describes the need to be responsible if you are going to become a great leader.
I was talking to a great leader once and ask her what was the main secret of her success. She told me it had taken her some time to realize why people respected her. And then said: “I never asked them to do anything that I would not be willing to do myself. From cleaning dirty toilets, to answering the incoming calls. My people know I have empathy for their struggle, and therefore, they allow me to lead them.” I could easily see why her people respected and looked up to her.
Remember. . .
At the end of the day, if you are irresponsible, you can't expect anybody else to be responsible. It is Responsibility what qualifies you to show up at a higher level of leadership. When you model responsibility, you will also get more responsibility from the other leaders under you and from everybody in the organization.
Part of being responsible is taking responsibility for your own growth as a leader. Check out what a Strategic Conversations Executive Program could do for you and your career.