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How to coach others to take personal responsibility for results

by Dave Anderson

Dave Anderson

As a leader, you can help take someone from failure to success, but you can't take them from excuses to success. This is because people who make excuses and don't take responsibility for their results have no chance of correcting the real cause of their woes because they live in denial. Following are key steps to help you coach team members to accept responsibility, focus on what they can control and improve their results.

Teach team members that becoming is more important than getting.Until people become more than they are in areas like attitude, discipline, character, and knowledge, they are unlikely to get much more than they've got.

Teach team members that attitude is a choice. While a team member cannot choose what happens to them, they can choose their response to it. The quality of their response will greatly determine the quality of their job, bank balance, and sales.

Teach team members that discipline is a choice. Discipline is developed when someone gets clear about what they want, decides to pay the price necessary to get it, and resolves to give up what may hinder them in their quest.

Teach team members that growth is a choice. Personal growth isn't automatic, and it doesn't come naturally with age. Personal growth must be intentional. If someone is not growing, it's because they've unconsciously chosen not to. They must choose to turn off the television every once in a while and read the books or listen to the courses that have the potential to impact their career and change their life.

Teach team members that character is a choice. Character is the combination of moral qualities someone has decided to embrace and apply in their life. If a team member lacks strong character, they can't blame mom and dad, the government, their teachers, or you.

Action Steps: How can you combat the failure to take responsibility and its potential to weaken your culture in your own business? Here are eight steps:

  1. Make certain that you have clear and thorough job descriptions and performance standards for each position in your business. These provide clarity and eliminate gray areas where non-performers often hide behind excuses like: "I didn't know I was supposed to do that," "I had no idea that's what you expected," and the like.
  2. Give faster, honest feedback as soon after the performance as possible to reinforce good behaviors and confront those that are unsatisfactory.
  3. Establish and apply consequences for non-performance.
  4. Hold leaders to a higher standard than followers. Poor leaders should be given less time to get the job done than poor subordinates because you have a right to expect more from those to whom much has been given.
  5. Accept explanations, but not excuses for task failure.
  6. Don't allow tenure to become a license for laziness for your long-term employees. You should expect more, not less, from team members who have been with you the longest.
  7. Coach your people to invest their time, energy, and talents on the aspects of their job they can control. This includes attitude, discipline, character, personal growth, work ethic, where they spend their time, with whom they spend it, and the like.
  8. Take responsibility. If you make excuses, play the blame game, or fail to admit mistakes, you give your people license to do likewise. The buck really does stop with you. The BEST way to teach team members to take personal responsibility for their results is to model this behavior personally.

Dave Anderson is the author of No-Nonsense Leadership: Real World Strategies to Maximize Personal and Corporate Potential. He is a peak performance author, trainer and speaker for leadership and sales. For more information go to:, or call 650-941-1493.


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