This is the second summary-article inspired by the book “Dark Cockpit”. In the previous one the focus was on how to communicate unequivocally, and this time we will cover the responsibility topic.
Your employees want to know that whoever is at the helm can make good decisions and keep them in mind when they do.
The test of a leader is if they have their team better than they found it. If you had to leave your team tomorrow, for whatever reason, how would they do? And we’re not just looking at numbers, but at the team’s potential to reach new heights in the future.
A handy trick to have up your sleeve as a leader is to assign responsibilities according to your team member’s preferences and play to their strengths.
Crew Resource Management (CRM)
A concept created to reduce commander autocracy and breed assertiveness in copilots, especially in situations when the commander is about to make mistakes.
CRM has such a profound impact on the efficiency and safety of flying that it has become a part of aeronautical legislation worldwide and a mandatory part of pilot and aircrew training.
Can you handle great responsibility?
The ask “Can you ask great responsibility?” is “Do you really want it and are you ready to pay the price, to bear the pressure?” These are the people who avoid any responsibility – projects, people, assets, decisions. You can’t be a leader if you back out of every challenge.
You find your opportunity to prove you’re a true leader in these crucial moments when no one:
* Is rushing to take the three-pointer that wins the basketball game
* Is jumping at the chance to make a big last-minute presentation
* Wants to have a difficult but necessary and urgent conversation with a client
If you shy away from responsibility in crucial moments, you lose face in the eyes of your people faster than a balloon you’re trying to inflate loses air the second you let it slip through your fingers. Not a pretty sight, huh?
Responsibility is the price of being the boss.
You might ask yourself: “Must leaders always lead by example?” That question doesn’t make much sense if you ask me. Whether they want to or not, leaders are an example for those around them. People keep a close eye on how their leaders react to the news, tell the truth, display inappropriate behavior, and report incidents. People remember everything! Some are even able to quote their leaders for years after the fact.
There are two ways to look at responsibility. One views it as a burden, as something to avoid. The other sees responsibility as an opportunity to grow, meaning the more you take on – more challenging decisions, more significant projects – the more you evolve, making it easier to bring it all to the finish line.
How we view responsibility is our choice. Kids naturally chose the second interpretation. They want to take on responsibilities even when they don’t fully understand them or their consequences.
- They want to go to the grocery store alone
- They want to feed their younger brother or sister
- They jump on the ladder to get something from a higher shelf even if that thing weighs more than they do
Sometimes it’s funny; other times parents get alarmed. But on the whole, we’re glad they want to do things themselves, and we understand that this is how they grow up.
If you’re lucky enough to lead a team, that role comes in a package deal with two obligations.
- You can never excuse yourself – you have to take responsibility for your decisions, mistakes, and the consequences of your actions. You have to be able to say, “The buck stops here” – an expression most identified with President Truman, who used the phrase to mean that the final responsibility for his administration’s decisions belongs to him, and he would never try to blame it on someone else. The key is to believe it before you say it.
- The second moral obligation is to instill the same sense of responsibility in your team. That is the only way they will evolve and improve.
Don’t worry. Once you have the first part locked down, the second one will come much more naturally. Good luck!