Ownership

Who’s to blame when things go wrong in your company, organization, relationship, marriage, life? Whose fault is it that your team failed? Who will you blame when profits decline, your team doesn’t meet expectations, your children resent you, your marriage fails? These are tough questions, but the answer is pretty simple. There is only one person to blame…YOU. Yup, those are the true, hard hitting facts. The only person to blame when things go wrong is yourself. If what I have said has ruffled you up a bit, good. Then you need to hear this.

The easiest way to lose, is to blame. That means when things go wrong in your company, and your profits fall, and you give your team a tongue lashing, the chance of you growing your profits, or even keeping your team, is slim to none. Jocko Willink said it best when he wrote, “Leaders must take ownership of everything. There is no one else to blame.” When you point fingers, you create more problems. When you take ownership, you create solutions. Ownership is realizing that you’re to blame for the faults of your team. You’re to blame for the lack of communication, the lack of support, the lack of direction, the lack of understanding. Ownership means you humble yourself and look in the mirror first.

“Yeah, that sounds good and all, but when things go wrong in a specific department, it’s their fault, right?” No. As leaders, we own everything. As a company owner, you own everything. Your people are only as good as the time, effort, and energy you invest into them. Their failure is your failure to provide support, training, help, communication, etc. A team’s failure can always be traced back to the lack of leadership from leadership. “But I’m not responsible for the work ethic of the team.” Really? Where does the expectation for work ethic start? Leadership. When the team sees you make excuses, show lack of discipline, or choose not to show up, what does that communicate to the team? A leader’s life is a sign post for others to follow. It will either lead to success or utter failure. 

“Okay, you make some good points, but the problems in my marriage can easily be traced back to my partners lack of…” I wonder if your partner does the things they do because you lack doing the things that your partner needs from you. Relationships are a two way street. It takes two to keep a relationship alive. “Yeah, I get that, and I have worked and tried and suffered many days only to be treated like s#!t. How can I be responsible for how someone else treats me?” Great question. You are not responsible for how someone treats you, you are responsible for how you treat others. My guess is that the relationship started to deteriorate a long time ago, and there are some deep seeded issues that need to be worked out. I would also guess that you have created a pattern with your partner that has led to rifts in your relationship, and it is now having an impact. The only way out of this, without walking away, is to have a serious heart to heart with your partner and decide, together, to take ownership of your faults and restore the relationship you once had. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. 

“You said that my children resenting me is my fault, and I should own it.” Yes I did. How is it your fault? Because resentment stems from not having needs met. These needs are not things like food, shelter, and clothing. I mean these are important, but resentment isn’t usually built from the lack of these needs. I am talking about unspoken needs. Needs like time, investment, being present, showing love through word AND action. These are unspoken needs from children, and children only hint when they are not getting these needs met. If we, as parents and leaders in our home, are not attuned to our children, then they will build walls of resentment, and unless we make corrections sooner than later, the wall will keep us out of their lives. Being a parent means owning everything. There is no instructional manual or playbook for parenting, but this, I guarantee, is a must for parenting: choose time with your children over time with friends and your job; choose to be present as often as possible; speak words of love and affirmation to your children, especially after they have seen how angry you may have become with them. Own your mistakes and your choices, and make corrections before it’s too late.

Takeaways:

  1. Leadership is about owning everything. When things go wrong, no matter the situation, leadership must take ownership. This means you reflect, understand, and take steps to correct the mistakes you made as a leader. 
  2. Leadership is to blame when things go wrong. Everything can be traced back to a failure in leadership if things go wrong. Whether it’s a lack of communication, support, training, time, whatever it is, leadership must take time to reflect on the “Why?”, and make steps to correcting their failures. 
  3. Pointing fingers creates problems, not solutions. Leadership is about creating solutions to problems and not creating problems through dismissal of responsibility. Leadership and ownership go hand in hand. When we take ownership, we begin to create and establish solutions without destroying the team.
  4. Relationships are two way streets. It is imperative that we own our mistakes and do what is needed to correct the errors we have made. We need to invest, be present, and seek restoration through sincerity and ownership. Ask questions, take ownership, and move toward restoration. 

Leadership is a way of life, which means we must take ownership of our life.

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