How Responsible Is TOO Responsible?

Christen Killick
8 min readMay 9, 2022

Responsibility is a spectrum — meaning there’s a line ranging from completely irresponsible all the way to destructive over-responsibility… and all of us are on it somewhere. We all know that personal responsibility is something we start to learn early in life — brush your teeth, make your bed, represent yourself well, be nice to others. But when was the last time you questioned where you sit on that line and whether it’s healthy in terms of what you’re trying to achieve?

Ideally, as leaders and team members, we all like to think we have a healthy dose of responsibility that allows us to contribute effectively to the greater good at the same time as allowing us to be the best that we can be. However, similar to most things, life can get in the way and occasionally we need to double-check ourselves.

Most of us know what it looks like when someone won’t take full responsibility for themselves. Either they don’t turn up as a decent human being in the first place (in which case they’re probably not on your team), or it shows up in a myriad of different “lacks”. Perhaps they sit back when they should step forward, do as little as they can get away with doing, hand in sub-par work, or generally can’t be bothered to use their people skills effectively. People unwilling to take full responsibility for themselves mean deadlines get missed, fingers get pointed at others and a generally negative vibe is set up within a team because of that person’s lack of engagement.

Lack of Responsibility

There are many reasons for a lack of responsibility that range from genuine lack of interest, to overwhelm, to fear of failure. Perhaps someone lacks interest in the well-being of the team, blames others for their mistakes, complains about unfair treatment on a regular basis, and constantly relies on others for advice and instructions rather than taking initiative. It’s tempting to hope it will go away. Perhaps your frustration makes you want to fire the culprit.

As a leader, your aim should be to ensure your people have the required skills and resources for the job at hand and encourage them to enhance their skills if they need to. Make sure that they have clear guidelines and defined deliverables and make it as easy as possible for them…

Christen Killick

Having flown as a Commercial Pilot for 18 years, I now use the communication and strategy skills that flight crews employ to elevate corporate business teams.