How Smart Managers Hide From Responsibility

Bear laying in snow with paws over eyes

On Monday, I wrote about The One Sign You Have Incredible Mental Toughness. That article described staring into the face of adversity and performing well with dignity. I explained that this is necessary, even when unfair obstacles stand in your way.

Taking responsibility is not about blaming yourself for everything that happens. But it does involve acknowledging that how you respond to stress matters.

When you own a situation, you create a calming space for you to be your best, even when challenges seem overwhelming. This is equally important in personal and professional spaces. However, people often have specific notions of what mental toughness means to them.

I enjoyed what friends and readers shared about their own experiences. Some people told me that surviving — and moving forward — after a parent’s death is how they have shown mental toughness. A few others said that continuing to do your best when you keep getting things wrong is what defines grit for them. Here are a few representative comments:

I have learned to cultivate a thick skin and to harness the mental fortitude essential to adapting to and thriving in what I deem my courage zone.

Mental toughness is about responding and not reacting to stressful situations. It’s about taking a step back and putting things into perspective.

I appreciate reading all comments, but always keep an eye out for contrarian ideas that provide a unique perspective. This one did that for me:

Having been in several ‘careers’ that require or develop mental toughness, I wish more peeps today had it. I find the ‘victim status’ or the ‘mock offense’ to be rampant in America today.

This comment made me think about how metal toughness is fostered at work. It also made me remember the best leaders I have worked for. There were times when they seemed to hide from responsibility and be distant.

In fact, the opposite was true — they actually cared so much that they were helping team members step into the spotlight by stepping back themselves.

All great teams are collections of high performers. People perform at their best when they have freedom to apply their skills and motivations. This means that they need space. It also means that great managers must sometimes avoid taking responsibility.

Delegating responsibility helps:

Drive accountability
A manager should be someone you can always depend on for help. But smart managers know when it’s time to step out of the spotlight and empower their teams to step into it. High performers thrive on autonomy and loathe micromanagement. You will get the most out of your team when you trust in their ability to get the job done.

Highlight gaps
Great leaders have an uncanny ability to know what’s coming before it happens. That’s because they always have one eye on the present, and one on the future. If they try to do all the work themselves though, they will never build lasting greatness because they will not realize the potential in their teams.

Create leaders
New leaders develop by being challenged and allowed to work towards ambitious goals. Smart managers know that if they interfere too often, they will halt their teams’ growth. Leadership is a learned skill; stepping in to solve every problem deprives leaders of the chance to improve through practice.

Smart managers are confident in their leadership skills. They know that after proper goals and guidance are in place, it is not their job to control every detail.

Do not get me wrong. Managers should absolutely explain their thought processes and set a good example. But when that is complete, they must refrain from being everywhere and doing everything. By doing so, their teams feel accountable for achieving greatness and enjoy a sense of deep accomplishment when they do.

How have you given responsibility?

About Brian and Aha!

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 roadmap software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the adventure of living a meaningful life.

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