Ownership
What it takes to be a “no excuses” leader.

You have to be able to say “pass or fail” to yourself. Banish the “buts”! 

One of the key ingredients of ownership–essential to being a great leader–is a no-excuses approach. Sure that might sound easy, but most of our tendencies, especially when we’re under stress and the stakes are high, are to point out all the mitigating circumstances to let ourselves off the hook. 

For example, if I spend a lot of time and work up a great agenda for a big meeting, but then forget it on my desk, it’s easy to point out why that happened. I got a call from someone in the middle of what I was doing. I was trying to answer that last email before flying out the door. One of my people popped in to ask me a question. (Basically, I’m just so darn busy being a leader that, well, these things happen.)

That’s not a “no excuses” approach. Sure, forgetting your meeting agenda may not rank very high on the list of “things I need to take ownership of.” But what if it is something important. Say the meeting itself doesn’t go well. Are you ready to point the finger at yourself as the reason why? 

Owning ownership is being able to look at a situation with clear eyes and a clinical view and really try to evaluate results for what they are. You have to be able to say “pass or fail” to yourself–to see yourself as a solution provider and a problem causer in equal measure. So you have to be able to evaluate results and yourself clinically and be able–and willing–to evaluate yourself clinically. The best thing to be able to do is to walk out of that derailed meeting and look at someone you trust (and sometimes that’s the mirror) and say “That wasn’t good, and it wasn’t good because of me.” Because then you can actually control the situation and make changes to get a better result next time. 

That’s the no excuses part of owning ownership– being able to turn the light on yourself first, foremost, and most often to say, What is my part in creating this situation? What is my part in changing the situation for the better? It’s not about beating yourself up as a martyr–it’s the opposite. It’s saying “it’s me” with confidence. “I’m the one. I own it. And I’m going to figure it out and make it better.”

When you do that, when you have that high level of no-excuses ownership, others see and want to also be, somebody who has a stake in the game and the confidence and skills to make progress. They see a leader they want to follow. 

What’s it going to take to change your leadership style or thinking to be a no-excuse leader? Or even a less-excuses leader (because we don’t have to be perfect tomorrow)? Catch yourself and your reactions in your everyday interactions and experiences. Give yourself a pass or fail. Own what happens, no excuses!

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