Winter has come! (please excuse my loving reference to Game of Thrones). Football is in full swing, and for many codes we are approaching the halfway point of the season. These days I enjoy watching and listening to the coaches’ press conferences after each match. I like to see how the coaches respond to difficult questions around their team’s performance. I notice that coaches avoid using specific words and phrases so they can state their disappointment without blaming or sacrificing their players. It always amuses me when a reporter asks a coach about the umpiring or a specific umpiring decision that didn’t go their way, especially when there has been an imbalance in free-kicks in the game. It is very reassuring to hear the coach reply, “we prefer to focus on things that we can control rather than on things we can’t control and we can’t control the umpiring.” I agree. Don’t blame the umpire, it’s futile.

We Are Powerless When We Blame Someone Else For Our Situation

When the outcome is not what we want, we often look for someone to blame for our situation, our lot in life. In doing this we inadvertently give all the power to another party to change the outcome. If they had done something different we would have had a different outcome. By blaming someone else we give them all the power to change the situation. We make them powerful. Concomitantly, as we give away our power, we become powerless. In other words, we have no power to change the situation ourselves. In sport, no doubt our team occasionally might get a raw deal with the umpiring, however, if we focus on the weather or the umpire we are, in effect, saying we are powerless to change our own fate. Professional teams aren’t about that. Focus on what you can do to improve; get fitter, increase our skills, execute better. Well-done coach.

Be Responsible and Get Your Power Back

When we take full responsibility for the outcome, we retain our power. We are powerful. By being responsible we are acknowledging that we have the power to change our situation rather than someone else. We have all the power we need to address all our deficiencies and implement new action, processes and systems to produce new and better outcomes. By refusing to get drawn into an umpiring debate the coach is saying, in effect, “we are in charge of our own destiny, not the umpire.” Hear, hear!

Being Responsible Frees Up Your Team

As a team leader, one thing I discovered in being responsible for everything that went wrong was that I freed up my team. Rather than chastise my team for things that went wrong, when I take the responsibility for their mistakes, I give them freedom to fail, to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and go again. When I am willing to be responsible this says to my team, “It’s okay, I got your back.” However, if I push the responsibility onto them I constrain them further, and cause them to worry more about failing next time. No one performs at their best when they fear failure. I find it reassuring when I hear the coach say, “I am responsible for the team’s failures.” They understand the power and freeing effect on their players when they take the responsibility. No wonder professional sport is “90% between the ears.”

Our words are powerful; they can empower or disable. The question is do you ever feel powerless? Do you avoid taking responsibility? Perhaps it’s time for that overdue conversation with a colleague, friend or family member and own your past shortcomings or failures. I encourage you to take responsibility for your future actions and get your power back?

Do you want to elevate your leadership discover your power in being responsible? Contact me today for a complimentary discovery session to explore the value of 1:1 leadership coaching.