Yesterday I expressed my strong belief that followers have a responsibility to hold leaders accountable for their behavior and policies. Even if our leaders don’t invite this shared accountability, it does not relieve us of our responsibility. If we don’t practice this attitude and behavior as a follower, we won’t encourage it in others when we are given the privilege to lead.
Right relationship is built on the foundation of personal responsibility. We simply can’t enter into purposeful partnerships with others at work if we are not first assuming full responsibility for ourselves. Challef nails this concept in his book The Courageous Follower: Standing Up to and for Our Leaders:
“By assuming responsibility for our organization and its activities, we can develop a true partnership with our leader and sense of community with our group. This is how we maximize our own contribution to the common purpose. Assuming responsibility requires courage because we then become responsible for the outcomes – we can’t lay the blame for our action or inaction elsewhere. But before we can assume responsibility for the organization, we must assume responsibility for ourselves” (pp. 37-38)
Unless and until we assume full responsibility for ourselves, we force others to assume responsibility for us.
We can’t hold a paternalistic image of our organizations and our leaders. That creates dependent, not interdependent relationships and relieves us of the need to be fully responsible for ourselves.
Before we look outside, to initiate values-based, purposeful action to improve processes or to challenge inappropriate behavior in others, we simply must look inside ourselves first.