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How to cultivate a culture of personal responsibility

21 ways to increase the likelihood of goals being achieved

I am free to be what I want to be and to do what I want to do.

Richard Bach


When you and others have a greater self-awareness of the choices that can made in terms of mind-set and thinking and the impact those choices can have on those around them, you will create a personal responsibility culture

A culture where people take responsibility to get things done, achieve personal and organisational goals and to be accountable whatever the outcome.


Following the 21 theme in celebration of our 21st year in business, here’s 21 thoughts on taking personal responsibility. The first 11 to consider as an individual and the other 10 as a leader.


Tips for Individuals

  1. Recognise the choices you have. Your choice to decide to take responsibility and be accountable, to define goals, generate ideas, prioritise, plan and then make things happen.
  1. Refuse to blame others or make excuses. If you continually blame others for how things have turned out, you won’t examine your own thoughts, behaviours and actions. So, you won’t do anything differently and things won’t change.
  1. “Be the change you want to see,” said Mahatma Gandhi. Challenge yourself to find three new ways in which you can take personal responsibility today, tomorrow or the week after.
  1. Ask yourself, “What and who am I waiting for?” Consider what you could do to stop waiting and to make progress.
  1. To develop a solution focused way of thinking, replace the word ‘but’ with ‘and’.
  1. Choose to move on. Do you want to focus on stuff that isn’t helpful and makes you feel unhappy? Or, you could recognise what you could do about it, if anything, then decide to park it or take action and move on.

How to cultivate a culture of personal responsibility


  1. Remove the ‘if only’ phrase from your vocabulary.  Avoid postponing your happiness waiting for the ‘if only’. 
    1. If only I had more money…
    2. If only I had a different job…

        Stop the ‘if only’ and do what you can with what you’ve got, wherever you are. 

  1. Watch your words, and your thinking. Make the choice to notice if your thoughts and language are helpful or hindering. If they’re hindering, what could you possibly choose to do?
  1. Be responsible whilst holding others accountable. Take responsibility for your own actions whilst holding others accountable for their actions.
  1. Become the person who is known for doing something about the things that bother them.
  1. Be a role model. Your words and actions will influence others. What impact do you want to have?


How to cultivate a culture of personal responsibility

Tips for Leaders

  1. Focus on you in your role as a leader. Consider your thinking, behaviours and actions. Identify any that lead people to feel unwilling or unable to take personal responsibility. Address that thinking or behaviours and change your actions.
  1. Introduce the word ‘choice’ more, in meetings, in one-to-ones and general communication.  For example, “We need to make some cost savings – what choices do we possibly have?”
  1. Give people the freedom to think and the freedom to act. Ask for their ideas and then allow them to take them forward. 
  1. Find out why people sometimes choose to take personal responsibility and sometimes they don’t.  And, then seek to work with them to remove any barriers.


How to cultivate a culture of personal responsibility

  1. Promote how people are making the most of opportunities. This might encourage those who are choosing to deny or ignore the opportunities around them.
  1. Create an environment where people can take responsibility for developing themselves. Ensure this is acknowledged and rewarded.
  1. Notice how often you or others say, “I don’t have enough time.”  People have choices about how they spend their time and sometimes managers can steal that time. This could be through ineffective meetings, excessive bureaucracy, red tape or politics.  Look back over your last week and ask, “How much time did you steal from your team?”  Define yourself a goal about how you can give them that time back this week. 
  1. Hold people accountable. If someone is taking responsibility for something, follow up on the results, and give credit for success.
  1. Help people realise they have greater choices than they may at first imagine. Challenge assumptions that might have been made.
  1. Lead by example. Show you’re prepared to take responsibility to make things happen and to be accountable, even if things don’t work out exactly as you wanted.


Request our free e-Book ‘How to make personal choices and take responsibility’ for insightful ideas to help you own your thoughts and actions.


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