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With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility...Really?

ctrl, shift, blame

Control, Shift, Blame?

You have a responsibility to study hard…If I caught you committing truant I will break your leg. You understand?

I still vividly remembered my dad’s warning when I was 10 years old on my way to school on a busy late morning in his trusted near white Datsun 120Y. You see, my dad completed pre-university at then Chinese High in the mid-50s. He would have made the family of 12 siblings proud to be the only graduate if not because of financial difficulties… Obviously knowing the importance of a good education he took it very seriously and work really smart to ensure that we have a smoother path towards success (so we thought…).

Lately, I have been studying the meaning of “Responsibility”…and felt that if we are not careful we could be placing the true meaning in the wrong way. Take for instance:

“Tim, you are responsible to keep your room tidy or else…” or

“As a manager you are responsible of your team’s performance…” or

“Whatever life holds in store for me, I will never forget these words: “With great power comes great responsibility.” This is my gift, my curse. Who am I? I’m Spider-man…”

I used to defined Responsibility as follows:

Responsibility = Choice to Respond + Level of Ability

But often than not we tends to use responsibility as way to ensure that we have a reason to fault others when they fell short…

We all know it’s important to Claiming Responsibility rather than Blaming Irresponsibility.

But how can we assign and delegate responsibility effectively? How can we ensure people are accountable by their action and not just paying lip service.

Here’s my 5Cs towards engaging others to be responsible…

  1. Clarity – Be clear to why you are assigning the responsibility. But that’s not enough, helping others to be clear why they needed the responsibility are equally crucial first step.
  2. Challenge - Help people to understand how being responsible supports their development. People are naturally motivated by challenges within their capability first and would then explore to take on more risk as they go along.
  3. Choice – Encourage them to make conscientious choice to respond to challenges….even the courage to say “NO” is a choice they make and we have to respect that and talk through the reason why and make adjustment to ensure that they are not taking beyond what they are not able to handle.
  4. Communicate – Show your interest in how they are doing with their responsibility by keeping open communication consistently. Reminding them of any milestones, timelines and possible barriers is a sure sign of showing they are not just being “dump” those responsibility.
  5. Celebrate – Success or failure in all ways, means and forms are worthy of celebration. Only when people knows that being responsible is a worthy cause that they are receptive to more responsibility in the future.

Remember, we are first and foremost Responsible in entrusting responsibility on others… So who’s responsible?

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