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Part: IV People Who Ask Too Much > Passing the Responsibility Buck

Chapter 24. Passing the Responsibility Buck

A big source of problems in the workplace is when someone tries to pass the responsibility buck. It can be tempting not to pick it up when you can avoid it, since it's hard to admit a mistake even if only to yourself. Plus then you may have to face real consequences from shame to blame or worse. So you might find reasons why someone else should have done it, told you to do it but didn't, or told someone else to do it who didn't. Besides, you may tell yourself, "Why should I be expected to know?" and so it goes.

However, again and again, the failure to take responsibility and shifting responsibility for your own mistakes to someone else is behind breakdowns in group planning and action. A common result is a lack of follow-through and poor communication about whether something was actually done. Another fallout when someone doesn't take on his or her expected responsibility or tries to pass it on to others is that not only do things not happen, but people can get angry. In fact, read many books on leadership, and they all echo the theme—one of the keys to leadership is taking responsibility, as well as holding others accountable—a theme former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani emphasized in his own book, Leadership. Or as President Harry Truman put it on a prominently displayed sign on his Oval Office desk: "The buck stops here."


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