22 Jan 2024

The six pillars of personal leadership: Personal responsibility

Breaking down the concept of Personal Leadership into six essential pillars, beginning with Personal Responsibility.


Personal leadership is all about taking command of your own life and responsibilities.

Regardless as to whether or not they are business or personal goals, the ability to develop and utilise your positive leadership traits to guide the direction of your life, and take charge of your own destiny, is vital if you wish to succeed.

That's a lot of words. In fact, personal leadership, as a concept, is broad, and the notion of taking charge of one's life might appear daunting.

Fear not. Over the next series of blogs, I'm going break down personal leadership into six essential pillars.

And we shall begin with...


Personal responsibility

"There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one's self." - Benjamin Franklin

For most of us, the system of education (school, college, university etc.) is a safety net, and as much as educators try to prepare us for the "real world", we're never going to truly comprehend what real life is like until we are actually living in it; the merciless, unforgiving, punch-in-the-face grind of...the day-to-day. It stings.

It's a hard lesson to learn. "Is this it? Is this my life?" Yeah, it is. But it's the first lesson we all must learn if we're ever going to succeed.


Taking personal responsibility for yourself and your life

Understanding that you, and you alone, are solely responsible for your results and your current situation is like unlocking a superpower! By doing so you are also saying that you, and you alone, possess the ability to change your narrative and produce significantly better outcomes.

And yes, I of course understand that, big picture, there are factors outside of our control that strongly impact our lives, our opportunities and the outcome of our choices, but, generally speaking, if we want to make a change for the better, we have to first look inward. Taking personal responsibility is the root from which all other success essentials stem.


What are the benefits of taking personal responsibility?

It's surprising just how many people struggle to admit when they are wrong. Often they will become defensive and place the blame on something or someone else. But blaming others and not taking accountability for your actions will only stall your progress, and strip away any chance at changing your future for the better.

The ability to take stock of one's own actions and admit fault is a powerful asset. It's something that people take notice of.

Owning your mistakes shows a fallibility that is relatable. Everyone makes mistakes. Anyone that claims otherwise is being dishonest. And honesty is the key to developing trust and respect.

People that own their mistakes often follow it up by expressing a desire to do better next time; a want to grow, to develop, to self-educate. To do this the person must be willing to put in the work; to research and develop the skills needed to further improve themselves.

A person that owns their mistakes and wishes to improve is also showing themselves to be "teachable", willing to collaborate and to have good listening skills. Opening oneself up to the right advice, coaching or training, is a no-brainer when it comes to strengthening your skills.


So let's summarise the benefits of taking personal responsibility:

  • People will take notice and see you as relatable and honest.
  • This honesty will promote a relationship built on trust and respect.
  • The desire to improve will open yourself up to coaching and training.
  • All of the above shows a commitment to self-improvement.


What are the risks?

With every choice we make in our lives there's a certain amount of risk. "Will this work out?" "What will people think of me?" "Will I fail?" "How do I know I've made the right decision?"

Taking personal responsibility goes hand-in-hand with self image. Having a steadfast, firm and positive self image will give you the confidence to take those risks necessary to achieving your goals.

It can be challenging not to compare ourselves to others, but trust me: what might appear to be a perfect life on social media...isn't. Everyone is on their own journey. And so are you. Trust your gut, listen to the people you respect, believe that your journey is on the right path. Clear, definite, attainable goals will help.

Ultimately, however, the biggest risk is inaction. Actually, no, it's not a risk. Its results are definite. Inaction in taking personal responsibility is a surefire way to never get where you're going. Blaming others for things you're responsible for might feel good at the time, but it's a trap.


Great leaders model expected behaviours

When you take personal responsibility for your actions and their outcomes, you will make it acceptable for others to do the same. And if you establish this positive pattern, others are more likely to follow.

Check back here next month for a look at the second pillar... Purpose.

And for more insights into Personal Leadership, click the link to read the Orange & Blue UK blog!