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Leadership Tips: Operationalizing Responsibility

The responsibility scale below is a way to help leaders and teams identify personal and organizational patterns around taking responsibility. Unhealthy work cultures reward and reinforce one end or the other.

Created and used with permission by Anna McGrath,

How do the different types of responsibility-taking show up at work?

Reference the examples below and see if you recognize yourself or your team in any of them.

The following is adapted and used with permission from the best article we’ve read about conscious leadership in the workplace, Operational Integrity: the Gateway to Workplace Harmony and Velocity, by Kathlyn T. Hendricks, Ph.D and Gay Hendricks, Ph.D. Find more resources at

Taking less than healthy, 100% responsibility

  • Coping quietly, not speaking up when agitated or affected

  • Reading email or checking your phone in meetings you can't stand

  • "Forgetting" deadlines and agreements

  • A leader not voicing her objections when she perceives a course of action will be counter to the values of the organization

  • Saying something about someone you wouldn’t say in front of them

  • Blaming others for problems that arise

  • "Nobody told me what to do!"

  • "People don't approach me"

  • Not giving necessary and appropriate feedback because you’re afraid of the other person’s reaction

  • Putting up with ineffectual meetings and interactions rather than telling the truth about them and participating in improving them

  • Complaining

  • "I was hoping they'd notice my hard work"

  • "I hold meeting after meeting where I say, 'I'd like everyone to open up,' and nobody talks — so I"m not going to hold those meetings any more."

Taking more than healthy, 100% responsibility

  • "He was going through a really hard time today and left early, but I know how to fix the presentation, so I'll just stay late"

  • “It looked like you had a lot on your plate, so I went ahead and took a stab at the first draft”

  • "It's entirely my fault"

  • "I'll email everyone in the group to remind them of the deadline"

  • Doing others’ work for them because you can "do it better"

  • Take over, get resentful with workload, burnout

  • Consistently working more and more

  • Overriding or ignoring signs of health risks to complete a project because “everyone is counting on me”

Taking healthy responsibility

  • Communicating with colleagues instead of bottling up

  • Sharing discoveries about the connections between actions and results

  • Assuming everyone can take 100% responsibility and allowing them to do so

  • Rewarding people for keeping agreements, for example, with appreciation

  • Forming compensation plans where people are rewarded for taking 100% responsibility rather than 200%

  • Seeing yourself as the architect or designer of the results you are getting

  • Sharing/posting the Responsibility Scale with colleagues and inviting discussion on how responsibility is being lived in your team

Questions that can be used to generate healthy responsibility (in oneself or with teams)

  • I wonder what I really want?

  • Am I willing to view others as my allies?

  • Am I willing to take responsibility for the outcome?

  • What do you notice about your contribution to this situation?

  • What might the hidden agenda or payoff be in the way you are participating in this issue?

  • What is familiar about my actions, feelings and responses in this situation?

  • How might this dynamic be different if everyone took 100% responsibility?

  • Is there an action step I can take to move me in the direction of what I really want?

  • Can you do something to minimize or repair any damage to a relationship?

  • How can you look at this situation differently where you participate as the architect or designer?

Responsibility Reset Online Course: Develop Yourself as a Leader

We’ve made learning about healthy responsibility easy and fun! We created a 30 minute animated course on Udemy. 100% of the people who have taken it have responded it was valuable.

For less than $25, each member of your team will have shared language and tools that support a productive culture — Check it out!

What people are saying about Responsibility Reset

It was excellent. High yield information in a manageable time frame with helpful examples that helped clarify individual behaviors and organizational culture.

— Dr. M, physician

“This course is good for teams because it can curb negative behaviors from occurring by getting them to focus on 100% responsibility and therefore better productivity.”

— Andy M, pilot

About Crafted Leadership, LLC

Crafted Leadership, LLC educates and guides leaders and teams. After working with us, leaders are equipped to address challenges with ease and creativity. Our proprietary Architecture of Inspiring Leaders model gives leaders a platform from which to grow. Consisting of 13 key skills, the model covers vital aspects of leadership. More information can be found at



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