Leadership starts with taking responsibility, first for oneself, then, for the good of others. In other words, leadership starts with you but it’s not about you. It’s about working for the good of others.
Imagine the following scenario: You walk into your house and your mom or dad is standing over a broken lamp on the floor. They look at the lamp and then they look at you. Their eyes dart back and forth between the lamp and you. Their gaze is somewhat accusing. Their look is asking the unspoken question.
But you’ve been gone all day. You don’t know anything about the details of the broken lamp. So you speak up in the awkward silence with the response that every child has spoken since the dawn of time.
I didn’t do it.
You don’t want to be blamed for something you didn’t do. You don’t want to get involved in a mess that’s not your fault. You shy away from anything that will put you in the middle of the situation. But that’s not what leaders do. In fact, they do the opposite. They take responsibility.
When you choose to be a leader, you forfeit your right to forfeit responsibility. You put your rights on hold and take responsibility.
• You willingly step into situations that need fixing even though you did nothing to break them.
• You willingly move into matters that require the assistance of someone else.
• You willingly probe into problems that others are unwilling or unable to solve.
Let’s go back to the broken lamp. The initial response for most people focuses on themselves: “I didn’t do it.” The leadership response is one of responsibility for the good of others. It says, “How can I help you clean that up?”
Taking responsibility for the good of others is a willingness to be a part of the solution in the lives of others rather than the problem. When you begin to look at each situation through the lens of responsibility, you’ll see opportunities to make a difference. You can impact any situation when you approach it with the mindset that you will:
1. Add value
2. Put the needs of others before your own.
When you do both of those things, you grow your influence with others. It’s when we take responsibility for the good of others that we truly earn the right to be called a leader. Not because we take that title for ourselves, but because others recognize it in us and choose to follow.
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