02 Feb Why taking responsibility goes both ways
When we’re brought up as kids, we’re regularly told to take responsibility for our mistakes.
It’s a key principle to put us in good stead for the rest of our lives. Owning up is not easy, pleasant or comfortable, but it helps us to sleep soundly at night with a good conscience.
Unfortunately, so many people try to take a shortcut and get around the need to take responsibility. This only leads to deflection, denial and ultimately, regret.
Don’t lock it in, Eddie
Take outgoing Collingwood president Eddie McGuire. On the day a damning report into systemic racism at the club was leaked to the press, McGuire responded not with an apology, but with borderline denial that a problem even existed, calling it a “proud and historic day” for Collingwood.
"McGuire said today marked a proud and historic day for the club. Not everyone agreed."https://t.co/jEEs8aar8s
— SBS Voices (@SBSVoices) February 2, 2021
There was enough spin at this press conference to reverse the rotation of the earth. Rather than acknowledging the ugly racism that had only manifested under his tenure, McGuire attempted to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes by pretending he was on the right side of history.
If ever there was an example of how foolish it is to not take responsibility, this was it.
In our professional lives, we’re inevitably going to stuff up. Apologising for our mistakes is no fun, but at least it’s honest, and that’s worth far more than trying to outsmart your boss and co-workers.
Heed Eddie’s example of what not to do and use your mistakes as a learning experience to change. It’s the best way to learn, even if it can be unpleasant.
Remember to take credit for your successes too
On the flip side, taking responsibility isn’t all about putting your tail between your legs.
Whether it’s not wanting to show off in front of co-workers or a fear of tall poppy syndrome, we’re not conditioned to take credit for our successes as much as our stuff-ups.
It’s about time we learnt to say thanks when we receive praise, rather than dismissing it as not a big deal or that someone else deserves credit.
Under the regular stresses of life in the workplace, you have to enjoy all the wins, big and small.
Perhaps it’s a uniquely Australian trait, but there’s no need to downplay your achievements. A simple thanks and show of appreciation for your praise will show that you really do take pride in your work, which means a great deal more than dismissing it outright.
Taking responsibility goes both ways – you should always admit to your mistakes, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take credit for your achievements too.