Posts Tagged ‘responsibility’


The Mentor Myth by Debby Carreau pokes a hole in the theory that having a mentor is essential for growing professionally and reaching the top rungs of the corporate ladder. The word “mentor” is an overused term. Instead, Carreau asserts that people are responsible for their own destiny. They are in control, not mentors who barely know them and are taking a passive interest in their careers. While mentors can be useful, there are much more effective approaches to career advancement. Smart professionals lead the way down their own career paths, and they are not afraid to take risks.

Professionals who want to be in full control of their careers and success should keep the following principles in mind:

  • Others are not in control a person’s career destiny. Supervisors, mentors, and coworkers are not responsible for how far another person advances in a career.
  • Mentors can be helpful but are not a career panacea. They are not as valuable to any one person’s career as some business books and career experts would have people believe.
  • Change happens. Planning is an important part of having a successful career, but unexpected events do occur. Smart professionals think strategically about their careers but are also flexible for when such events, such as market declines or industry disruptions, occur.
  • Complacency is a career killer. Many people take too long to make necessary changes in their careers, and they get stuck. Career planning is an ongoing effort and deserves dedicated time.
  • Failure is an opportunity for growth. The fear of failure stymies some professionals from taking risks, but each failure is a learning experience that makes most people stronger.
  • People are personally accountable for their own careers. Professionals who advance are those who always go beyond the bare minimum and do what they say they will do.
  • Hard work is not enough. People who work around the clock with the hope of getting noticed rarely receive the attention they crave. More productive for career growth is working hard and strategically thinking about how to move forward.


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In The Oz Principle, Roger Connors, Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman use Dorothy’s empowering journey from L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz as a metaphor to illustrate the transforming effects of personal accountability and ownership on organizational results. The authors demonstrate how accountability can be achieved through a four-step approach based on practical and proven results: Muster the courage to see it, find the heart to own it, obtain the wisdom to solve it, and exercise the means to do it. When properly applied, these steps enable leaders, managers, and frontline workers in any organization to overcome obstacles and deliver improved bottom-line results.

Whether a company is languishing or thriving, performance invariably improves when employees take on greater levels of personal accountability and ownership. Accountability is an empowering force that produces proven results and provides a solid foundation for long-lasting solutions. Following Dorothy’s journey in The Wizard of Oz, The Oz Principle provides four steps for avoiding victimization and achieving organizational accountability:

  1. See It. A negative situation must be carefully assessed through self-appraisal. There must be a realization that more can be done to achieve the desired outcome.
  2.  Own It. Finger-pointing and blame must be set aside. Ownership and responsibility for a situation and one’s role in it must be shouldered in order to move the organization forward.
  3. Solve It. It is important to find and apply new ideas that may help the organization overcome obstacles and anticipate what is ahead.
  4. Do It. Employees must bravely commit to following through with solutions to achieve the target outcomes.

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The news of the Democratic walk out in Wisconsin and the possibility of a government shut down in the near future emphasize the need for responsible leadership now more than ever. As politics become more extreme, it is not a matter of who is right or wrong, but whether or not our leaders can act responsibly and be held accountable for carrying out the functions of their position.

In corporate life as in politics, leaders must be willing to fight for what they believe is right, but also have the courage to face challenges head on. There will always be opposition for any leader when working toward a vision or goal, but that opposition is necessary for pushing the leader to be his or her best. Individuals become stronger by having to surmount obstacles. Running away only delays the inevitable confrontation and weakens a person’s character.

When a leader is hired or appointed, his or her followers have expectations concerning what their leader will accomplish. Leaders must do their best to come through on these expectations, but must work within the system they find themselves. When hired or appointed, leaders recognize and agree to the rules and terms of their position; they should fight for what they believe is right, but respect the responsibilities that come with the job. If victory is not possible, leaders must accept defeat graciously and hope the opposition will do the same in the future.

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