Qualities of a Team Player Part 1… Self-Responsibility
Self-responsibility is the quality that many would argue is most important, for both team members and team Leaders alike, so I am posting this in both of my blogs.
I feel self-responsibility is more of an attitude… or a way of thinking about ourselves. When it comes down to it, who is responsible for your behavior? Who is responsible for every action you take, and everything you don’t do? Who is responsible for how others perceive you? Who is responsible for where you are right now, for the state of your life? YOU ARE! No one else is responsible for any of these things… just you.
We are not responsible for what others do, or what life throws at us, however each of us is responsible for how we react to others, and to what happens to us.
So… how does that relate to becoming a better team member/worker and getting promoted? Well… Every manager and Leader is pretty much constantly looking for people who have the skills needed to be successful in their current job, the next job, and perhaps even the job after that. And for every one of those jobs, self-responsibility is a key to success.
Let’s look at some examples of behavior that I’ll bet you are familiar with. You probably work with people who blame everything on someone or something other than themselves. When they get a speeding ticket, they blame the cop. When they get spoken to, or reprimanded at work, they blame the boss. When they are late for work they blame the bus or train. I could go on and on…
For each of the things I listed, who is really to blame? Is it the cop, the boss, and the bus or train? NO… no it is not. It is the person’s fault each and every time. They were speeding, they did something or failed to do something at work, and we all know buses and trains sometimes run late… so we are responsible for getting an earlier one.
What about our feelings? Who is responsible for them? When someone cuts me off in traffic, are they responsible for my anger? If I see my girl talking to another guy, who is responsible for my jealousy? If your mother tells you that you are a disappointment, who is responsible for those feelings? Yup… you are! Each of us is responsible for our own feelings. No one can make you feel anything… we each choose to feel what we feel, even though we are not always aware of making that choice. With practice, we can choose not to feel the way we would normally feel, however this often takes the help of a therapist, coach, or mentor. The opposite is also true… that we are not responsible for what other people feel. Remember though, that does not mean we are no longer responsible for treating others the way we would want to be treated.
When we are children, it is pretty normal for us to lie, and justify our behavior. Our ego is still developing, and very fragile, so we use self-justification to defend our ego… our picture of who we are. The problem is that too many of us continue this self-justification, which leads to us creating our own, messed up reality. We rationalize and justify every mistake we make as being someone else’s fault, or some wrong that has been done to us. In the long run, this is really damaging to us because the only way to learn from our mistakes is to admit them as mistakes. If we cannot do that, we never learn and keep repeating the same poor decisions over and over.
We also hide our mistakes because we don’t want other people to think less of us… we don’t want to be embarrassed in front of our friends. The truth is… once we are out of our teens, people really appreciate it when we admit our mistakes. It makes us trustworthy when others know that they can count on us to tell them the truth. That strengthens our relationships with those people, and they are much more likely to help us achieve our goals.
Mistakes are a part of the learning process, and we all make so many of them. Learning to admit your mistakes may not be easy, so start with small ones and work your way up. Admit it out loud when someone honks at you because of something you did. Admit to your honey that you’ve been afraid to tell them something… they might be angry for a minute or two, and then they will be so glad you told them. This is something that you can do… and you have to put in the effort.
Some examples of self-responsibility…
When we are self-responsible, we take the blame for our mistakes, admit our fault, and since we know that we are responsible for the consequences of not working hard, we work hard to avoid those consequences. We are responsible for the quality of our work, and so we put in the effort to do a good job.
When we are self-responsible, we know what is expected of us, so we plan ahead. We take an early bus or train so we will not be late to work. We know what is expected of us at work, and we start working as soon as we clock in so we have time to finish our job.
When we are self-responsible, we know our capabilities and ourselves. We know what we can do, and when we need help. We are not afraid to ask for that help, as we understand we all have different skills, and we all need help sometimes.
When we are self-responsible, we ask questions until we understand what we are being told. Acting as if we understand, when we don’t really understand is a behavior left over from years ago… not wanting to be embarrassed in front of our friends. We have to get over that fear now that we are not children anymore, which means asking questions until we fully understand. We ask questions to fully understand what is expected of us at work, and how we are expected to achieve it.
When we are self-responsible, we know that we are responsible for developing a relationship with our boss. We actively communicate to find out something about their personal lives, what goals they have, and how we can help them achieve those goals.
When we are self-responsible, we don’t feel sorry for our situation and ourselves. Beating ourselves up because of past mistakes is a waste of time and energy. We can take a good look at where we are, what strengths we have, what we want out lives to be like, and start moving in that direction. Our friends are not responsible for our goals, nor will they pay our bills if we fail to achieve our goals, so don’t worry about what your friends think of the decisions you are making.
When we are self-responsible, we stop blaming the people in our lives who we have felt wronged us, or let us down. People do the best they can with the tools and skills they have. Our parents only had their parents to teach them how to be good at raising us… what examples did their parents show them? They did the best they knew how… let it go at that. Forgive them and move on with your life starting now.
When we are self-responsible, we listen to instructions given, and follow those instructions as well as we can. We understand that we are paid for our time and energy at work, and when we took the job we agreed to do what we were told to do. We understand that it is not ok to goof off, check our phone, talk to our coworkers, and not do our best work. If the work is too hard, or we don’t like the hours, that is not a justification to do poor work… it is only OK to leave that job and find another one.
No one expects us to be perfect, and… if you have not been self-responsible in the past, your new attitude and behavior will be noticed. Your attempts will be appreciated. I suggest, as always, that you are honest with your boss. Talk to them about what you have been reading, what you are getting out of it, how you see your past actions and attitudes, and talk honestly about your decisions to change. Your honesty and efforts will be appreciated, and I bet your boss will be more than happy to help you become a better worker!
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