Organizational behavior. Taking responsibility.

Someone in the chain of production made a mistake, and a customer received a sub-par product. Quickly, team members started pointing fingers about who was possibly to blame.  Time was wasted, morale was deflated, and hours later the problem was no closer to being fixed.

Sound familiar? This is common behavior in many organizations.  Imagine, though, if the first person who learned of the error instead said, “Am I willing to take full responsibility for this situation?”, and then took action to resolve it?

Leadership development expert Nancy Kepner with Crafted Leadership explains that would be an example of healthy responsibility, the choice to take 100% ownership for what is occurring in the moment within ourselves and with others. Shifting from blaming to healthy responsibility can transform problems and organizations into higher functioning, happier places to work.

Seem a little too good to be true? Try it yourself: Think of an issue (perhaps one that has surfaced at work multiple times), and ask yourself, “Who did it? Why did it happen? What is the root cause?” Then notice how you feel.

Now think of the same issue and this time ask yourself, “What do I really want?

Am I willing to learn whatever it is I most need to learn about this situation?

Am I willing to see all others involved as my allies?”

I tried this process myself with a problem that has popped up repeatedly, and noticed that when I shifted to healthy responsibility, I thought of better solutions and was more energized to implement them.

Kepner explains that this is an example of leading by design versus by default, and responding in a more productive way.  Organizations looking to stay competitive find that this approach produces better results, and creates more meaningful work environments for team members—a priority of many employees.

For more helpful strategies, consider attending Crafted Leadership’s monthly Leadership Hot Spot program, held at the Fort Collins Country Club, and featuring experts teaching skills to inspire great leaders. The next event is scheduled for July 26th at from 4 – 6 p.m. More details are at