Taking responsibility: the key to more self-determination

Reading time 6 minutes
Taking responsibility: the key to more self-determination

Responsibility is a complex issue. Let's take professional life as an example: Most employees say they would like to take on more responsibility. After all, this goes hand in hand with freedom of decision and greater flexibility. Personal ego is also likely to play a role: Those who bear responsibility are more easily respected by their colleagues and superiors.

However, the coin also has a flip side, namely when something doesn't go according to plan: "Who is responsible for that?" As soon as this sentence is uttered in a professional context, most employees are glad not to have to answer the question in the affirmative. Taking responsibility means not only enjoying the benefits that come with it, but also taking responsibility for bad decisions.

What does it mean to take responsibility?

Being responsible means making independent decisions and representing them to the outside world. You do not need permission, but decide what you think is right. There is no reassurance (e.g. with the boss). Responsibility is synonymous with power and influence, there is no doubt about that. In a job, greater responsibility usually comes with a promotion.

Taking responsibility also means dealing conscientiously with the new scope for decision-making. It is a matter of making decisions in the interests of the company. Power games and arbitrariness are out of place. That is why people in management positions should not only have the technical competence, but also the necessary interpersonal skills.

As mentioned at the beginning, in a position of responsibility you will not only be praised for successes, but will also be solely liable for setbacks. If you want to take on more responsibility, you should definitely deal with how to deal constructively with failures.

When does the sense of responsibility develop and how can it be fostered?

Taking responsibility is a learning process that begins in early childhood and continues until the end of life. Even daycare children can assume responsibility to a certain extent, as can be seen from this Professional article ...that's what I'm talking about.

Children's sense of responsibility can be fostered, for example, by giving them pocket money and letting them take on age-appropriate tasks. School also plays its part: The child learns to prepare independently for exams and develop homework routines. It has also been proven that responsibility for a pet has a positive effect.

take responsibility meaning

Examples of assumption of responsibility

In adulthood, most people are able to live their life independent to lead. Of course, that doesn't mean that you won't shy away from one or two necessary tasks. Wrong decisions are also part of it.

"If only I hadn't been so irresponsible back then!" You hear this statement quite often from older people when they look back on their time as young adults. It is important that you learn from negative experiences and do not repeat past mistakes.

Below, we have compiled a few examples that show what taking responsibility can look like in concrete terms.

At work: You

  • Conscientiously completes assigned tasks.
  • Show up at your workstation on time.
  • Volunteer to oversee projects.
  • Train new colleagues or trainees.
  • You don't cover up mistakes, but admit them openly.
  • Ask questions when something is unclear to you.
  • Embrace opportunities and challenges (e.g., a promotion).
  • Make constructive suggestions for improvement.
  • Lead a team / department or even be the first supervisor.
  • If your job unhappy you have the confidence to find alternatives.

In private life: You

  • Always keep track of your finances and pay bills on time.
  • Supports family members (emotionally and financially, as appropriate).
  • Invest time and love in your partnership.
  • Pay attention to a good Educating your children.
  • Keep your household tidy.
  • Carefully file your papers/mail.
  • Take responsibility for your health: eat a balanced diet, exercise, and avoid nicotine and alcohol.
  • Attends regular health screenings.

How can you learn to be more responsible?

The answer to the above question is quite simple: Taking responsibility can be learned by doing it over and over again. Ideally, a start is made in childhood by assigning age-appropriate tasks to the child, for which he or she alone takes responsibility. In this way, young people experience their Self-efficacy and also dare to do more as adults.

Now, however, there are families who, out of misunderstood care, take any kind of responsibility away from their children - sometimes even far beyond their 18th birthday. If your mother is still running your household or bringing you food every day because you can't cook, it's time to change things. The same is true if your partner is taking decisions away from you in all important matters.

Often, the only way to help is to jump in at the deep end: try out the things you think you can't do without support. By experiencing that you can indeed take responsibility, the latter will become easier and easier for you. This applies equally to the professional and private spheres of life. Start with smaller challenges and then gradually increase.

Taking responsibility: 8 tips on how to succeed

Do you find it hard to take on responsibility? The following eight tips can help you make it easier in the future.

1. mistakes are not the end of the world

The fear of responsibility is synonymous with the fear of making mistakes. But mistakes are perfectly human. They happen to everyone. You don't have to be perfect either! Internalizing this knowledge will make it easier for you to take on more responsibility in the future.

2. paint the disaster case

Put your fears into concrete terms: What could happen in the worst case scenario if you take responsibility and something goes wrong? Most of the time, the consequences are not as dramatic as you fear. Certainly, a reprimand from management is unpleasant. But is the idea really so bad that you'd rather miss out on possible promotion opportunities right from the start?

3. actively strive for more responsibility

How is your boss supposed to know that you want to take on more responsibility if you don't tell him? You have the best chance of success if you make your ideas more concrete in a conversation with your supervisor: In which area do you have more responsibility in mind? What should the increased responsibility look like in detail? In what way will the company benefit?

4. set yourself ambitious goals

Taking responsibility is not a concrete enough goal on its own. Picture what you want to achieve: A promotion at work? A new, more interesting area of responsibility? Responsibility for Employees? The more precisely you can state your goals, the easier it will be to turn them into reality.

Of course, your goals should not be utopian, but they should also not be too modest: Have confidence in yourself! If you don't believe in your strengths yourself, you can't expect other people to either.

5. further educate yourself professionally

If you want to take on greater responsibility, wide-ranging technical expertise is essential, especially on the job. Study your desired area of responsibility in theory. Acquiring specialist knowledge will help you to take on responsible tasks in practice later on. Making decisions.

6. stand by your decisions

Of course, you should be able to explain why you think a decision is right from a professional and human point of view. But that doesn't mean you have to justify yourself endlessly. Stand by your decisions once you have made them and implement them exactly as you imagined. Advice is welcome and important, but you still have the final say.

Don't make the mistake of trying to please everyone else and thus making lazy compromises. Otherwise, you quickly run the risk of losing credibility and respect.

7. leave your comfort zone

The Comfort zone has its name for a reason: Within this zone you feel safe and protected. However, you don't have the opportunity to develop yourself further or perhaps even outgrow yourself there. Try to gradually break away from your entrenched routines at work.

Think outside the box and see if some processes could be improved. By doing the job Personal initiative your manager will be more likely to consider you when it comes to assigning responsibility. Leaving your comfort zone still means accepting challenges.

8. be patient with yourself

If you have been avoiding taking responsibility, it will take a while for your inner attitude to change. Realize that this is a gradual learning process. By being brave and taking on smaller challenges, you will grow internally until you can eventually take on big responsibilities.

Don't be discouraged if you fall back into old behavior patterns. This does not mean that you are generally incapable! Regression is part of the learning process. The important thing is that you always get back on your feet and continue to pursue your goals.

Conclusion: Take on responsibility and advance professionally

If you want to have a great career, you have to be prepared to take on responsibility. Depending on your personal background, this can be an exhausting learning process. Sometimes impulses from outside are helpful to encourage and inspire you anew. In this context, we would like to recommend our Business Coaching Workbook.

We have put together the ten best tips for you to make your professional success to accelerate. The methods presented are well-tested in the field of business coaching and can be easily applied: So you can start today to convince your superior of your qualities in a responsible (leadership) position.

Take responsibility for your professional advancement. It's all up to you. Just demand your Free Workbook "Ten Business Coaching Tips for Your Career" on!

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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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