We typically characterize responsibility as a good thing. When someone tells you, “You’re responsible,” it probably feels like a compliment, right?

Being responsible may be part of your personal brand. Others may see you as responsible because you follow through on the commitments you make. Being responsible has likely been an essential ingredient to your current level of success.

We can probably agree that being responsible is a good thing…but is it possible we take it too far sometimes? Is there such a thing as being too responsible?

Recently (especially after becoming a mother), I’ve noticed I have a tendency to be too responsible. I sometimes take on more responsibility than necessary…in a way that doesn’t serve me or others very well.

I’m currently re-evaluating my responsibilities so that I can focus my effort on the responsibilities that matter most to me…the ones where I believe I can have the greatest impact.

Have you ever stopped to consider whether your sense of responsibility actually holds you back as a leader?

Below are three ways you can shirk responsibility and boost your leadership impact:

1. Stop solving other people’s problems. At Intend2Lead, we do not solve other people’s problems. We empower our clients to solve their own problems. After all, our clients know much more about themselves and their situation that we could ever possibly hope to learn. Our job is to facilitate their process…the client’s job is to figure it out for themselves in a way that works best for them.

By empowering others instead of solving their problems, you help them learn to do things for themselves. They grow more independent and less reliant on others for their own success and fulfillment. By leaving the responsibility with them, you encourage them to be more creative and resourceful.

2. Stop fixing other people’s mistakes. Just because something went awry doesn’t mean you have to step in and fix it. By allowing the person who made the mistake the opportunity to step up and own it, you empower them to accept personal responsibility. They receive an opportunity to learn from what happened by fixing it themselves. They will be less likely to make the same mistake in future. The responsibility to get it right stays with them!

3. Stop volunteering for things that no one asked you to do. I am really guilty of this one! When I look at something, I can almost always see ways I think I could help. Sometimes, this is a gift…especially when I enjoy it and feel like I am contributing. I’m not talking about those times. There are other times…

Have you ever volunteered to do something because you felt like you should? Then, you do it (because you said you would, and you are responsible!)…but it feels like a burden. You spend significant time and energy on it. It drains you. And no one else seems to appreciate or even notice that you did it (that adds insult to injury, doesn’t it?)? Other people may even begin to expect and depend on you to step up. I challenge you to start noticing your tendency to want to step in, and then consciously choose to not do so.

What might happen if you don’t volunteer for something? Maybe it ends up being a minor detail that works itself out or becomes unnecessary. Perhaps it’s something that doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things (let it go!). Maybe it is important, and you allow someone else an opportunity to step up who otherwise would not have had the chance (maybe it’s someone who wants to do it!). Who knows…you might even find more fun things to do because you let some responsibility go!

Sometimes you don’t realize the weight of something you’ve been carrying until you feel the weight of its release.” – Unknown

Am I encouraging you to shirk all of your responsibilities? Of course not!

I am challenging you to:

  • Let some of your unnecessary burdens go…stop feeling like the world is on your shoulders (I promise, it’s not!).
  • Allow others the opportunity to step up (you may be pleasantly surprised by what they can do!).
  • Free up some of your mental real estate, your calendar and your energy to make space for more of the things you want to do.

If you give yourself permission to do this, what impact could it have on your leadership and your life?

All my best,

Sarah signature