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You may wonder: what criterion determines if a person is personally responsible? Personal responsibility IS synonymous with authentic freedomempowermentcreativity, accountabilityand alignment. It always brings about positive results. Without personal responsibility, people live lives of mediocrity, and enter into petty struggles and resentments. A lack of responsibility always brings about negative results. As each person exercises choice (even through passivity), there is NO neutral. Every person is always part of the problem or part of the solution.

Personal responsibility occurs when a person is aware of their autonomy and free will and considers what they think, feel, want and choose. A responsible person self-aligns. They know that every choice they make has both positive and negative consequences and they feel ownership for three primary things; tasks, relationships and outcomes. They are accountable because their beliefs, attitudes, responses, feelings of ownership, and their behavior are all congruent. Responsible people can be counted on. They say what they mean and mean what they say. They don’t hold back. Here are some additional qualities of responsible people:  

  1. They use responsible language. As they make decisions, you will not hear responsible people saying, “I have to,” “I ought to,” “I should,” “I need to,” or “I can’t.” Rather, they say, “I have decided to,” “I choose to,” “I commit to” “I want to,” “I will,” or “I won’t” or, “Can we negotiate?”
  • They don’t hide behind silence.  Responsible people put their stake in the ground. If they agree to do something, they speak it. If they disagree, they speak it. If they want an option not offered, they speak that. When I work with business executives, community leaders and educators, there are many times they ask their team of employees to commit to new behaviors and participate in culture change. Sometimes the response is a silence that is dishonest.  Even when leaders ask, “Is there anyone here who does not agree?” too often there is silence when a conversation is needed. This happens even when there is no proof of danger. A responsible person makes their position known so there is no ambiguity. They are honest and straightforward.
  • They build trusting relationships. Responsible people follow-through on commitments. Because they are not rebelling against some perceived authority, they often look for alternative solutions and work to negotiate terms that work for all. They mindfully consider their role in interpersonal dynamics. They don’t blame. They don’t feel or act like victims and they don’t make victims of others. Because they own their choices, they are both receptive to, and disclosing of, ideas, opinions and feelings. They have the interior room to make relationships a priority. They show respect and recognize the value of others because they value themselves.
  • They know they are creating their reality. Responsible people consider the outcomes of their choices and fully accept them as their creations. They look and exude strength, capability and wholesomeness. Others recognize their integrity. Their presence is a felt experience and their actions bear out their words. 
  • They know they are purposeful in using their power. Responsible people don’t hide behind a story of what they are NOT. They don’t think or say, “I am not the boss so I can’t…” “I am not safe when I am honest…” “I am not important enough to say what I really think or ask for what I want so I have to be quiet.” Or, “I am not strong, decisive, privileged, lucky or (fill in the blank)____ like so-and-so.” 
  • They are likeable. Responsible people feel really good to be around. None of us like to be around people who are blaming, withholding support, fearful, rebellious, mean-spirited, negative, and apathetic. Responsible people are happy and free.  They attract others to them.  No matter what their age, gender, station or circumstance, responsible people are inspiring, authentic leaders.

Why People Hire LifeWork Systems 

Business owners, community leaders, and educators hire Lifework Systems because they want the advantages of an extraordinary workplace and recognize a systems approach ensures consistency and sustainability in the transformation process. They know that conscientious employees grow your business and improve your reputation, giving you competitive advantages. 

We help organizations instill into every person a common language and toolset for how to participate in a responsibility-based workplace. Visit our website at www.lifeworksystems.com, and click the link at the bottom to complete a culture assessment and schedule your first consult to review a report on your feedback, all at no cost. 

You can also contact Judy Ryan at 314.239.4727 or at judy@lifeworksystems.com

As published in St. Louis Small Business Monthly, February 2015