Don’t Ask Permission To Be Responsible

March 10, 2016

Be Responsible

When the gears of your organization or team lock up, how often is it because someone is waiting for permission to take action? And how frustrated, angry, and irritated do you get when this happens? What does it mean to be responsible?

At Pixar, there is a collaborative culture and Braintrust sessions where everyone is encouraged to provide candid feedback. But responsibilities are also clear. It’s up to the person who is responsible for decision-making to weigh the input and decide how to solve the problem.

A way to change this is to do what Pixar did. Build it into the culture. Make it an operating principle. I have actually added it to my personal list of principles. If you really do believe as I do that success is never a solo act then it must hold true that everyone on your team or in the organization must be allowed to be responsible without permission.

Remember every person that works for you has made it through life thus far. They likely have gone to school, rent or own a home, may have children, or even grandchildren. They have loans and navigate society’s many challenges and yet at work they hold back from being responsible. This is often caused because they don’t want the ramifications of being wrong on what responsible means to their boss.  They don’t want the tone, the subtle nonverbal cue that they made a mistake. They would rather say, I was waiting for permission. Ugh.

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