To Be A Great Leader, Start Taking 100% Responsibility

What are the ways to be outstanding and excel in your position to ensure that you move up to the level you desire? If you know the one key ingredient you need, is your integrity such that you would use this feature to set yourself apart from your peers? Before attempting to answer these questions, let’s explore leadership.

Being a leader is a process and a mindset. It's not something that is given to you; you have to step into the role and claim it. Everyone can be a leader, you don't have to wait for the title. With this definition of "leader," here is the secret component to set yourself up for success and move ahead.

A great and respected leader takes 100% responsibility. What comprises 100% responsibility? For one, not finger pointing and making excuses. A motto at the Synovus Bank in Georgia is 100 % responsibility, 0% excuses. This motto, combined with a powerful servant leadership mindset, led Fortune to once rate this bank as a top employer and the best place to work.


When we look at responsibility, we need to consider the unspoken component of stepping up and taking responsibility. It is the result and the standard in which you take on the assignment and bring it to completion. Ask yourself, when you take on a task, to what standard do you apply yourself? One-hundred percent responsibility is applying an outstanding standard, not average or mediocre. In order to go the extra mile, you need to understand and believe that your role in the organization is to be an essential cog that fulfills the mission and purpose of your company. Maintaining this awareness, you push yourself to achieve outstanding results, never making excuses.

What else drives 100% responsibility? As a team member exhibiting leadership abilities, it is vital to encourage and make others on your team successful. To be able to encourage is to have the ability to make someone more determined, more hopeful or more confident. In this manner, you make others successful by nurturing the mindset of 100% responsible, 0% excuses. When you are outwardly focused rather than just self-focused, you are more apt to uphold the vision of the organization, which is a key component of great leadership.

Responsibility In Action: Three Steps To Get Ahead  

Getting ahead is embodying 100% responsibility and taking action. Maintaining a high standard requires that you be self-motivated in three areas.

1. Have a growth mindset.

When you challenge yourself, you are stepping out of your comfort zone. Finding ways to grow personally and professionally is paramount to getting ahead. Try something new and different, being open-minded to the experience. With fresh insights and experiences, the value you bring to your position will set you apart. A willingness to learn something new can often set you up to become the expert in that area. Here is a brilliant example of a C-suite level woman I coach.

In the beginning of her career, the organization she worked for needed someone to learn a new skill and take on the responsibility of a unique, newly developed position. She said yes, and her willingness to step out of her comfort zone made her the expert in this new area. It put her on a career path to where she is now, working for an international multi-billion-dollar organization. She is the only female in the C-suite level for this company and has continued to be the unique expert in her field all because of her willingness to step out of her comfort zone and take on the challenge.

2. Develop new skills and knowledge.

One of the ways to uncover your skill gap is to take the EQi – 2.0 assessment. The results will reveal your strengths and what needs development. Increasing your emotional intelligence is crucial to set you up for great leadership, as it is often the only area that leaders need to excel. Technical skills and IQ contribute to 4-10% of your success. Having a high EQ increases your success to 85-90%. Working with a coach can help you develop these skills by pointing out your go-to style when faced with challenges and adversity. One-hundred percent responsibility is managing your emotions during adverse and stressful times.

3. Seek out opportunities.

Francis Bacon wrote, “A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.” Seeking out opportunities at work is as easy as finding someone who is overwhelmed or behind on a project and helping them complete the assignment. Moving around and asking who needs help is being proactive and will set you apart.

Taking on 100% responsibility combined with expanding your comfort zone, you will get noticed and you will be successful. Part of this journey requires you to be vulnerable and transparent, not competitive. Competing with others is the wrong motive for becoming successful and getting ahead. Having this mindset is what I refer to as “gracious professionalism.” Gaining the respect of your peers and those above you by using the steps outlined in this article is what will get you noticed and put you on the path to success. Remember, success starts with you!